Weekly Columns

DR. ROE in the THE HILL: Americans deserve better answers

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Washington, January 24, 2012 | comments

Yesterday, President Obama delivered his State of the Union address to the joint session of Congress and to the nation. Three years and three trillion-dollar deficits later, it is clear that hardworking Tennessee taxpayers deserve better answers, better solutions and a better result.

To date, the president’s record tells its own story. In his first speech to a joint session of Congress in 2009, President Obama promised to “cut the deficit in half” by the end of his first term. However, the reality is that under President Obama’s watch, the government has accumulated the three largest annual budget deficits in our nation’s history. Over $4.6 trillion has been added to the national debt since Obama took office, which is the most rapid increase of any president. Additionally, there was a 25 percent increase in non-discretionary spending by the president when Democrats controlled both the House and Senate. We must get serious about enacting spending cuts that put us on a sustainable fiscal path.

Additionally, the president claimed that one of his top accomplishments is the overhaul of the health care system; however, since passage of the Affordable Care Act, this nation’s health care system has weakened tremendously as costs have continued to skyrocket. As a compilation of Gallup surveys from 2011 recently released reveals, "more American adults lacked health insurance coverage last year than in any year since Gallup and Healthways started tracking it in 2008." Specifically, when the daily survey results were averaged across the entire year, more than 17 percent of those polled said they were uninsured in 2011, up from 14.8 percent in 2008. The president’s health bill also contains an unconstitutional mandate to purchase coverage Americans can’t afford.

In the Senate we have seen a failure of leadership and a failure to legislate. It has been 1,000 days since the Democratic-led Senate has produced a budget. So why isn’t the president encouraging his colleagues to pass a much needed fiscal blueprint that would give this country stability and certainty?

This country’s economic growth is constrained because of the outrageous levels of spending by this president. The national debt is rising and has now reached over $15 trillion – officially surpassing the size of our economy at 100 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Another budget is due. This country cannot afford another year without a budget and without certainty just because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid thinks it would be “foolish to do a budget at this point.” The American people deserve fiscally responsible leadership and common sense solutions to get our country’s fiscal house in order. Congress, along with the president, needs to come to an agreement that leads to stabilization and declines the ratios of federal government debt to GDP and debt to revenue.

A better answer for the future of our nation would be to pass a budget that cuts spending and provides economic certainty. A better solution to get our nation back on track would be to create jobs by loosening credit, leveling the playing field by enforcing trade rules and creating new opportunities for American exports, and by moving forward with energy initiatives like the Keystone XL pipeline. A better result would produce legislation that affirmatively answers the questions I ask myself before considering any legislation: Is it constitutional? Does it shrink the size of government? Does it expand liberty? Does it protect this nation? Every time I cast my vote, I make sure the answer to all those questions is a resounding YES.

The president has another opportunity to rein in spending and work with his Democratic colleagues to pass a budget that is 1,000 days overdue. It is my hope that his words and his promises align with his actions because the American people deserve the truth and a better future. 

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-a-budget/206453-rep-phil-roe-r-tenn

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