With the government funded for the rest of the fiscal year, Congress can focus on solving the other problems which daily impact Nebraska families, workers and businesses. While progress has been made in many areas, there is much work left to do. The price of gas continues to rise; onerous regulations hamper businesses; and government spending needs additional cuts. Moving forward, with the distraction of passing stopgap funding measures removed, our responsibility to the American people is to keep working together to tackle the big problems we face today or face bigger problems tomorrow.
On April 18, Standard & Poor's (S&P), a financial services company which issues credit ratings for the debt of public entities, downgraded the long-term credit outlook for the United States from "stable" to "negative." S&P stated the reason for its new evaluation is the "very large budget deficits and rising government indebtedness." This rating is the most serious alarm bell sounded about the spending-driven debt crisis we face.
While important steps have been taken on the long road to get our fiscal house in order, including the largest year-to-year spending cut since World War II, we must continue doing all we can to put our economy on a path to prosperity. This path includes the honest conversation about how we cut trillions in government spending instead of billions.
The average price of gas is now 98 cents higher per gallon than this time a year ago. Rising energy costs cause substantial hardship for families, seniors, schools, and small businesses. The time to act on comprehensive energy policy is now, before prices at the pump soar to $4 a gallon or more. American energy policy is broken. For too long, it has focused on limiting energy production within our borders and making it more expensive.
Congress and the Administration must work together to develop energy policy which uses the abundant resources our country possesses. Sources like coal, natural gas, hydropower, nuclear, wind, and solar fill America's diverse, plentiful energy portfolio. A strategic, all-of-the-above approach to energy policy, which utilizes American engineering, ingenuity and entrepreneurship, will strengthen our economy and create thousands of new jobs, right here at home. More importantly, by encouraging conservation, incentivizing innovation, and responsibly using existing American resources, cost burdens on Nebraskans will be lessened.
Job-crushing regulations, which prevent businesses from hiring employees, expanding product lines, or investing in new technologies, remain at an unprecedented high. For too long, Congress has failed to implement legislative oversight and allowed agencies to ignore its Constitutional authority.
We must stop unelected bureaucrats from enacting overly burdensome regulations on the American people, which is why 170 of my colleagues and I recently sent a bipartisan letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers to express deep concerns about these agencies' attempts to push through a dramatic expansion of the Clean Water Act. By the agencies' own admission, the "Clean Water Protection Guidance" released in December 2010 will substantively change federal policy with respect to which waters fall under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and significantly increase the scope of the federal government's power to regulate waters. The EPA, the Corps, and other federal agencies, must be held accountable for clear overreaches and restrained in this era of out-of-control government.
For more information about these issues, the latest developments from Congress, or to sign up for my e-mail newsletter, please visit my website at www.adriansmith.house.gov.