On Monday, February 1, President Barack Obama submitted his budget proposal for the coming fiscal year. This is the first step in the budgetary process, though the evolution will continue on for several more weeks as Congress proposes its own version.
Unfortunately, this budget got off on the wrong foot. The President's budget more than doubles our national debt, drives spending to a record $3.8 trillion, pushes the deficit to an unheard of $1.6 trillion, and raises taxes by more than $2 trillion over the next ten years. The budget also adds $14 trillion to our nation's debt over the same time period.
If the President and Congressional Democrats are serious about creating jobs and getting our fiscal house in order, they need to abandon their agenda of higher taxes and increased deficits.
The President's budget adds even more injury by cutting $40 million from the Market Access Program, which is a direct contradiction to his claim in the State of the Union address of wanting to help agriculture producers and small businesses increase their exports.
Serving on the House Agriculture Committee and having visited nations with whom we have pending trade agreements, I know well the potential positive impact opening new markets will have on our nation's economy.
Every dollar in agricultural exports generates $1.65 in economic activities such as transportation, financing, warehousing, and production. Nebraska's $4 billion in agricultural exports translates into $6.7 billion in additional economic activity. Apart from agriculture, Nebraska's export shipments of merchandise in 2008 totaled $5.4 billion. We owe it to our economy to open markets for U.S. goods and services.
The proposed budget also includes $36.5 billion in direct tax and fee increases on American oil, natural gas, and coal. These tax increases will only serve to reduce American energy production, increase energy prices, and destroy American jobs.
In addition, the President's budget ignores the $873 billion in new taxes the Congressional Budget Office estimates "cap-and-trade" legislation will impose on our economy. If these additional taxes were included, the President's plan would impose $3.15 trillion in tax increases over the next ten years. That's trillion with a "t."
Instead of taking this approach, I support an all-of-the-above approach to our energy policy, one which encourages research and exploration for all forms of American produced energy. Let's take this opportunity to do what is right for the future of our country by tapping into American energy resources and creating jobs here at home.
The budget does "freeze" certain discretionary spending at fiscal year 2010 levels for three years -- however, it excludes the vast majority of federal spending from the freeze. These savings would be less than one-half of one percent of the federal budget and will not start for another 20 months.
I support immediately passing strict budget caps which will limit federal spending. We must also take a hard look at entitlement and other mandatory spending programs which are rife with inefficiency and waste.
Congress and the White House must work together to begin the process of making a real difference in our nation's fiscal future. Unfortunately, the President's budget assumes we can borrow, spend, and tax our way back to economic prosperity. As history has proven, this path is unsustainable.
Fiscal responsibility isn't a Republican or a Democrat issue. It is our promise to all Americans not to waste taxpayer dollars or spend money we don't have and instead hold the line on spending. During these uncertain economic times, so many people have had to tighten their budgets and make tough spending decisions. Congress should be no different.