- Keeping government accessible (8/19/16)
- Fighting for reliable rural flights (9/18/15)
- The status of our economy (7/11/14)
- Holding Japan accountable in trade negotiations (5/30/14)
- Solutions for our budget and the economuy (4/18/14)
- Religious freedom must be protected (3/28/14)
- Protecting American interests through trade (1/24/14)
A tale of two budgets
Recently, the House of Representatives had a choice between two very different budget directions. Unfortunately the majority in the House of Representatives chose the path of least resistance.
Families and small businesses are hurting; and too many Americans are unemployed. Our economy is facing serious challenges, and Congress should be taking steps to strengthen our fiscal stability, not taking the path of spending and taxing.
The budget the House passed recently does just that. It clocks in at a staggering $3.6 trillion. Put simply, it taxes too much, it spends too much and it borrows too much from future generations.
Many members of Congress -- on both sides of the aisle -- have taken to the House floor to pound their fists and claim we need to make the tough choices. But it's American families who are making sacrifices -- they are tightening their belts and making tough budget decisions. Congress should be expected to do no less.
Rather than bring spending in line, the Majority party pushed spending to its highest peacetime level in American history.
This budget could cost as much as $68,000 per household when all is said and done. This is more debt than has been accumulated by all previous U.S. Presidents -- all the way back to George Washington.
Under this budget, spending will top $4 trillion this year alone and consume 28.5 percent of our nation's economy. It would mean a $1 trillion increase to the already unsustainable growth of our nation's entitlement programs, a $1.5 trillion tax increase to further shackle the small businesses and investors we rely on to create jobs, and a massive increase in energy costs for families under a new program to reduce greenhouse gases called "cap and trade."
The last point may be the most onerous. The House version of the budget would allow a legislative tactic called "reconciliation" which would prevent an open debate of the measure. Why? Because the budget, as proposed, would impose a limit on carbon dioxide emissions of utility, oil, and manufacturing companies in the United States. The increased cost of compliance would then be passed onto energy consumers in the form of higher energy costs. Commonly, this has been referred to as "cap and trade."
Independent studies show Nebraskans -- who receive much of their electricity from coal, would see an average increase of more than $2,000. As if this economy allows for such increases.
I supported another version of the budget -- one which would freeze non-defense, non-veterans discretionary spending at its current level for five years. It reforms entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid (which are currently growing at around eight percent annually). It spends $270 billion less than the Majority's budget in fiscal year 2010, $1.5 trillion less over five years and $4.8 trillion less over ten years.
The House Republican budget lays a firm foundation to position the U.S. to meet three important strategic energy goals: reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, deploying more clean and renewable energy sources free of greenhouse gas, and supporting economic growth. This is accomplished by rejecting the "cap and trade" proposal, opening exploration on our nation's oil and gas fields, and by taking an "all of the above" approach when it comes to our nation's energy portfolio.
Also, the budget alternative I supported does not raise taxes. In fact, it cuts taxes for individuals, simplifies the tax code, and suspends capital gains taxes through 2010. These are positive steps we can take to get our economy back on track.
Unfortunately, this budget was tossed aside in favor of one which places a priority on Washington-knows-best policies and which employs shortcut approaches in order to raise taxes on families' energy usage.
Thankfully, the Senate version of the budget at least rejects the fast track approach to "cap and trade." Later this month -- when negotiations between the House and the Senate produce a final budget -- we will know how this tale ends.