The budget submitted by President Obama is filled with some eye popping numbers that will need to be cut back. That said, the president is to be commended for sending Congress an honest budget that doesn't play hide and seek with the government's revenues and expenses.
His budget isn't the "Fudget" we've seen in the past with all the gimmicks that left out such expenses as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Alternative Minimum Tax and spending on natural disasters. Past budgets did not include those huge expenses. Instead, they went straight to the national debt. President Obama has included those expenses in his budget which is one reason it looks so large.
I support the president's effort to cut in half the monumental federal deficit--most of which he inherited. A lot of the red ink in his budget is due to the fact that America is in its worst economic crisis in decades. Still, the size and scope of his budget concern me. I am a fiscal conservative and I will be looking for ways to rein in spending, and I think others in Congress also will. This is one area where I will concentrate my efforts.
In the recent debate on the Omnibus spending bill I supported an amendment that would have reduced the cost of the bill to previous year's levels plus 3.8 percent for inflation. This would have cut about $11.8 billion from the bill. The amendment ultimately failed but it was a good effort and you can expect to see more budget cutting efforts in the future.
In particular, I'm concerned about the prospect of raising taxes during an economic downturn. On the one hand you're trying to stimulate the economy. On the other hand, you're trying to keep money from going into taxpayer's pockets. The logic puzzles me. I also question counting revenue for cap and trade policies to deal with climate change that haven't been implemented and could have a negative impact on our economy by raising utility rates on consumers.
I also have long opposed eliminating private student lending, which is crucial to providing educational opportunities for the middle class, and which preserves Nebraska jobs instead of transferring them to government agencies in Washington, D.C.
We have not yet found the best way to end unnecessary payments to large farm operations that don't need them.
I support continuing efforts to rein in such subsidies. I've worked with Sens. Dorgan and Grassley to limit the total amount of payments a farmer can get and to end payments for those with high adjusted gross incomes.
Figuring this out is particularly important in these tough economic times because America's farmers deserve an effective safety net and it shouldn't be jeopardized by these indefensible payments to a relatively few farm operations.
While I do not agree with all of the president's proposals, I do believe that we need to get the deficit under control, reduce government spending and make sure taxpayers are getting a better bang for their buck.
We need to a new era of fiscal discipline in Washington, D.C., and an honest budget and honest debate over how we get there.