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OP-ED: We need to cut spending, but proposed Balanced Budget Amendment won’t do the job

April 12, 2018
In The News

I support a structurally balanced federal budget, significant spending cuts, reduction of our soaring national debt, regulatory reform and tax cuts. Together, these actions produce a strong, vibrant economy. I support a well-crafted Balanced Budget Amendment that emphasizes reduced spending!

I do not support the proposed Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA). The timing is too obvious and the amendment lacks the provisions to be effective.

This year, Congress has shown no restraint on federal spending. Almost seven months ago, the U.S. national debt crossed $20 trillion. Since then, Congress passed seven short-term spending bills (or continuing resolutions – CRs). One of those CRs raised federal spending by more than 10 percent above current levels. That same vote surrendered the limit to borrow more money.

Last month, Congress approved its seventh – and final short-term spending bill (CR) – of the fiscal year. This CR was a $1.3 Trillion “Christmas tree”-like omnibus, negotiated in secrecy and closed to amendments from members of both parties. Although we fully funded the U.S. military, we did not fully fund the border wall, border security, nor did we defund sanctuary cities and Planned Parenthood – priorities that my constituents sent me to Washington to fight for. The proposed BBA wouldn’t have prevented this omnibus because it merely requires three-fifths of the body to waive the balanced budget requirement. (The omnibus bill passed with 61 percent of the vote in the House and even more in the Senate.)

My constituents were outraged at the spending increase coming from Capitol Hill – and rightly so. Republicans were elected to fight for the principles we campaigned on. Chief among these principles was the promise to reduce the size of government and balance the budget. The omnibus spending bill broke this commitment.

Our failure to enact serious changes has directly contributed to another national debt milestone – now over $21 trillion. I have no doubt that we will be ushering in a $22 trillion national debt by the new year. This is fiscal recklessness, and we are bankrupting the country our grandchildren will inherit.

My Republican colleagues have realized that they shattered trust with our constituents, which is why we are voting on a Balanced Budget Amendment this week. Unfortunately, we are not fooling anyone back home. Hard-working men and women in my district, though pleased by the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, are worried about our incredible spending problem.

I have additional concerns with this Balanced Budget Amendment. The amendment wouldn’t trigger spending cuts for an out-of-balance budget; rather, it would allow a simple majority to raise taxes on the American people. Also, it permits the balance budget requirement to be waived if the U.S. declares war or is involved in a military conflict. We’ve been in a military conflict since (at least) 2001. Further, this BBA would not even take effect until 2030! 

There are other proposed balanced budget amendments that would work – and actually do the job. Instead we are asked to support this BBA that doesn’t reduce spending but will surely raise taxes. We should focus our efforts and attention on meaningful reforms that will rein in our bloated spending, reduce waste within the government, and allow taxpayers to keep as much of their hard-earned money as possible, and send a meaningful BBA to the states for ratification. Our constituents expected—and they deserve—much more.