Weekly Columns

It Is Time We Get Our Country’s Financial House In Order

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Washington, February 25, 2009 | comments
It’s no secret that America is facing an extraordinarily tough economic climate and too many folks in East Tennessee have lost their jobs or live under continuous stress that they may soon find themselves unemployed. It is clear that Congress and the President need to come together to help restore economic growth and create jobs. While I am hopeful that the current economic stimulus plan works, I remain skeptical of many of the spending provisions, and I will be actively looking to support additional measures that provide more direct stimulus.

Even though I still have tremendous concern this package is not getting the most bang for our buck, the reality is it has passed through Congress and has now become law. I will support vigorous oversight of this package to ensure that it truly works to stimulate the economy and taxpayer dollars are used wisely. But I will also work to bring any funding to East Tennessee that will help create jobs in our region. We must not let differences of opinion about the wisdom of this package prevent us from receiving our fair share of this funding.

On Tuesday evening, President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress on national television regarding his priorities for the nation. The President’s address underscored the severity of the nation’s economic crisis, and he also used this address as a tool to set the stage for his first proposed federal budget to be outlined to Congress later in the week.

I support the President's call for fiscal responsibility, and I believe that in order to restore our economy, we are going to have to dig ourselves out of this enormous deficit. This has to start with spending restraint. Unfortunately, the President is proposing a tax increase – a tax increase on income and a tax increase on investment. Raising taxes at a time when we are trying to get our economy moving is not the right call, and I hope that we can work with him to get this increase off the table.

I would like to see the President urge his Congressional Democratic colleagues to re-examine the Omnibus spending bill they brought forward today. The FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act is going to spend an additional $410 billion after the government has already spent $700 billion to bail out Wall Street and another $787 billion for a “stimulus” package. And that doesn’t even include funding for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Homeland Security or National Defense. Everybody understands the government needs money to operate, but at a time when we should be looking to tighten our belts, why are we increasing government spending at a rate that is two or three times the rate of inflation? The reality is, we’re writing checks for spending we can’t afford without setting any priorities, and our grandchildren will get stuck with the tab. This is wrong.

I agree with the President’s words that it is time we get our country’s financial house in order. If we’re actually going to restore fiscal responsibility, Congress should start by eliminating all excessive spending.

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