Caller Times – The Tide Turns in How Washington Spends Money

By August 12, 2011 Op-Eds No Comments

The debate in Washington has changed. It’s no longer whether to cut spending, it’s about how much spending to cut. It’s not whether the government is too big, it’s how to reduce government so that Americans have fewer hassles, more choices, more money, and fewer worries.

Enough is enough — we need a balanced budget.
Last week, the White House demanded, for the fourth time since 2009, a “clean” debt limit hike with no spending cuts or reforms. That is not why America sent 87 new freshmen to Washington. In the past, Congress has increased the debt ceiling 77 times since 1917, with no plan to stop the spending and with no accountability to the American people. This time Congress did not bow to the demands of the president. The country has said enough; enough reckless, wasteful Washington spending, enough piling more debt on our grandchildren, and enough budget tricks, gimmicks and empty promises.

Instead, Congress, under the leadership of House Speaker John Boehner, with the input of the new freshmen, passed a limited debt increase where every dollar of debt limit increase is matched with more than a dollar of spending cuts and no new taxes. It also ensured there would be no delay in delivering Social Security checks and that our military pay and veterans benefits were not affected.

America cannot afford to default.
The debt increase legislation, though far from perfect, was right for America. Washington’s gridlock and out-of-control spending threatens our economic security. Gambling with a default, however, would have meant gambling with Americans’ nest eggs and financial future. The interest rate for a mortgage and the cost of a small business loan would have gone up and everything from cars to college tuition would have become more expensive. A multitude of renowned economists and local financial professionals argued that the economic repercussions of a default would be worse than the devastation caused by the recession of 2008. The Budget Control Act accomplishes three fundamental things:

  1. Cuts government spending by more than it increases the debt limit. The debt ceiling will be raised by $900 billion until February with $917 billion immediately cut and capped for the next 10 years.
  2. Implements spending caps to restrain future spending. In years prior, debt ceiling increases were sneakily hidden into budget resolutions. Debt ceilings are now debated in the open where we see how tax dollars are spent.
  3. Advances the cause of a balance budget amendment. Congress will vote on a balance budget amendment and once it passes both houses with a two-thirds majority, the amendment will be sent to the states for a vote.

It’s time to put people before politics. Progress before partisanship.

The Budget Control Act created a 12-member joint committee, required to create a plan that reduces the deficit by at least $1.5 trillion more over 10 years.

The president is authorized to request a second round of debt limit increase if:

  1. The joint committee cuts spending by a greater amount than the requested debt hike; or
  2. A balance budget amendment is sent to the states for ratification.

If the joint committee does not act and identify at least $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, the budget would be cut automatically, across the board, before there could be another increase.

Balanced budget amendment, the fiscal handcuffs that Washington needs.
A true balanced approach is a balanced-budget amendment. It is the only way to ensure long-term accountability in government spending. Texans don’t spend money they don’t have, so why should the federal government? Even the Texas Legislature, and almost all other states, balance their budgets. Texas, with its balanced budget and low taxes, has one of the most stable and growing economies in the world.

Washington is in debt because it has a spending problem, not a taxing problem.
Our economy works better when people decide how to spend their hard-earned money, not Washington bureaucrats. A realistic, fact-based approach with spending discipline and accountability is the only way to build a stronger country. The simple truth is: good judgment is the key to the economic security and financial peace of mind that Americans deserve.