Weekly Columns

Congress Needs Accountability

We must pass a Balanced Budget Amendment

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Washington, August 10, 2011 | comments

For the first time in our history, Standard & Poor’s lowered the United States long-term credit rating from AAA to AA+.  This decision is the latest consequence of Washington’s out-of-control spending, which must end to restore confidence in our markets, to grow our economy and to get folks back to work.

America is facing both a debt and economic crisis, which has led to ever-increasing uncertainty for families, small businesses and the marketplace. For too long, Washington has spent way beyond its means.  When faced with economic uncertainty, Washington spent more in an attempt to boost confidence and create jobs.  As a result of these failed policies, we are left with an unemployment rate above 8 percent for 30 consecutive months and a national debt that is greater than America’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 

Ultimately, the government has to live within its means, just like families do.  Since coming to Congress, my philosophy has been the same as it was when I was Mayor of Johnson City – spend less than you take in.  I have upheld the philosophy that we need less government spending and less government intrusion in our lives.  I have fought the administration’s aggressive efforts to expand the role of the federal government in so many different aspects of people’s lives – in health care, energy, student loans, the financial markets, and many other areas.

Since President Obama took office on January 20, 2009, the national debt has increased by $3.7 trillion. To put that in perspective, it took the U.S. from 1776 until 1992 to accumulate the same amount of debt that President Obama accumulated in two and a half years. 

This failure to get a hold of our debt is the clearest evidence that we need a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment.  Whatever one’s views were on the recent budget agreement, one thing is clear: the guarantee of a vote on the Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment is critical.  This vote will give us an opportunity to convince two-thirds of federal legislators to support the Amendment because of the severity of our fiscal problems. 

Moving forward, Washington must change the way it does business. We need less government, not more taxes; spending must be reduced from its current level of 24% of GDP; and we must pass a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment to keep the federal government accountable. 

I am willing to roll up my sleeves and work together because our economic future is on the line.  I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join me.

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