Weekly Columns

Debt Limit Vote Declares Serious Reforms are Coming

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Washington, June 1, 2011 | comments

On May 31, the House rejected legislation to raise the federal debt ceiling without any accompanying spending cuts or reforms by a strong bipartisan vote of 97 to 318.  This vote should prove to the President once and for all that he must agree to House Republicans’ demand that we rein in wasteful Washington spending wherever it is occurring.  Raising the debt ceiling without simultaneously incorporating enforceable spending cuts and serious reforms will only burden our future generations with outrageous debt.  We must not raise the debt ceiling by $1 without simultaneously making deep cuts in spending and taking real steps towards a balanced budget.    

The greatest threat to our economy would be to increase the debt limit without ensuring this cycle of taxing, borrowing and spending will stop.  Research by international experts clearly demonstrates that spending reforms, not tax increases, are the most effective path to fiscal consolidation.  Similarly, reducing the deficit is an important part in lowering the unemployment rate because we need to give our markets confidence that America will always be able to meet its financial obligations. Congress needs to get its financial house in order to help create a sustainable economy. 

There are major consequences to the out-of-control spending that has gone on in Washington for way too long.  Erskine Bowles, who chaired President Obama’s Fiscal Commission and served as Chief of Staff to President Clinton, has said that the era of debt denial is over.  While some continue to cling to the notion that we can tax, borrow and spend our way to prosperity, it’s pretty clear the House declared to the American people and to the credit rating agencies that serious reforms are coming. 

It is imperative to the future of the country that we fight for an immediate shift toward fiscal responsibility. That is why I, along with my colleagues in the Republican Study Committee (RSC), wrote a letter to House Speaker John Boehner asking him to “Cut, Cap and Balance”: cut the deficit in half next year with discretionary and mandatory spending cuts; cap federal spending at 18% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP); and pass a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment (BBA) that includes spending limitations and strong protections against federal tax increases.  This proposal will put us on a path to prosperity, and I will work to see provisions like this are included in any final agreement.

The discussion we are having now on debt and deficits is critical to job creation, which is our top priority in Congress.  While securing a long-term agreement that puts us on a path towards balance and prosperity is the most important thing we can do to create jobs, we are pursuing every avenue available to us. 

As the chair for the Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions (HELP), I am holding hearings that explore how we can protect job growth in today’s global economy.  Just last week, we held a hearing to discuss recent decisions by President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that expand the use of corporate campaigns and could be harmful to businesses looking to locate in right-to-work states like Tennessee.  Companies like Boeing are being threatened with costly investigations that could dissuade them from moving from high-cost labor states to lower-cost labor states.  We need to make sure workers are protected and jobs can be created.

I am glad to be part of a House that is determined to return focus to job creation, whether by significantly reducing the deficit or by oversight of wasteful Obama Administration agency actions.  We need to continue to work together because it is imperative that we move quickly and unite behind a plan to restore fiscal responsibility to Washington.

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