Weekly Columns

Congress Needs Leadership to Finish the 2011 Budget

f t # e
Washington, March 16, 2011 | comments

This week Congress passed another Continuing Resolution (CR), which cuts an additional $6 billion over the next 3 weeks.  This brings the total savings from the 2011 budget to $10 billion, which will really save $100 billion over the next 10 years.  Passage of the CR will prevent the government from shutting down; however, more spending cuts need to take place, and we need a bipartisan agreement to get there.

Since Democrats failed to pass a budget last year, Republicans in the House have to clean up the mess that was left.  Several weeks ago, the House cut more than $61 billion in spending – the largest spending cut in our nation’s history and a true testament that Republicans are working hard to reduce spending and strengthen our economy.  To date, the Democratic-controlled Senate has failed to consider any long-term agreement, so we have insisted on cutting $2 billion per week until one is reached. 

Is it sustainable over the long run for Congress to continue passing CR after CR instead of addressing the real issues at hand?  There’s no question a longer-term solution is beneficial, but Democrats in the Senate need to accept that tough choices to cut spending need to be made because the fiscal health of our economy is on the line. 

The President has said the government needs to “live within its means,” but he too has failed to put forward any serious plan about how we can do so.  If the President wants to show leadership, he will turn his rhetoric into action by encouraging the Senate to be fiscally responsible through enacting these budget cuts.  I thought it was telling that the President dispatched Vice President Biden to lead his negotiations on the budget, only to have the VP turn around and leave days later for a 10-day trip through Europe. Until we see real leadership on these spending bills, we won’t reach any agreement because he is the one who will approve any bill passed by the House and the Senate.

Tennesseans don’t want to hear more empty promises from the Administration and from Congress because we are well aware this country cannot afford to spend at the level it has over the years.  House Republicans are taking the lead where the President has failed by actually addressing big fiscal problems, including entitlement reform in the 2012 budget. The President’s budget proposal does not offer solutions to address these unsustainable spending, deficit and debt levels.

Reforms must come with an agenda that focuses on restoring economic growth and creating jobs.  Ultimately, Congress needs to balance the budget.  This is not a simple task, but it is an important goal we must work towards if we are going to grow the economy. For this reason, I am a cosponsor of H.J.Res. 1, a balanced budget constitutional amendment introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, which would mandate future Congresses to balance the budget, except in the case of wars or military conflict. 

An influential Founding Father and the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, told us that action “will delineate and define you,” and I agree.  Tough decisions need to be made, and I am willing to make the tough decisions in order to keep our nation strong and prosperous. Will the President and Democrats in the Senate work with House Republicans to cut spending and reform entitlements?  My hope is that they put their words into action because our economic prosperity depends on it.

f t # e
Tags: Budget