Word around Washington is that some House and Senate leaders are willing to let Congress limp along indefinitely with a series of short term measures for funding the government.
This Congress began with unfinished business, since the prior Congress failed to pass a spending plan for 2011. I voted for the first continuing resolution last month because it took spending reductions seriously – cutting $61 billion versus 2010 spending levels and $100 billion versus the President’s proposal.
In the weeks that followed, it became apparent that the Senate Democrats were unwilling to even vote on our thoughtful, targeted spending reductions, so I joined my House colleagues in voting for a short term continuing resolution that would fund government operations for two weeks, cut spending by $4 billion, and give House and Senate leaders more time to work out a plan to fund the government for the rest of the year.
Today, House leaders brought another continuing resolution up for a vote – this time for three weeks. I understand the short term funding challenges we face, however, I could not in good conscience vote to postpone addressing the long-term budget crises and historic levels of national debt.
The hard reality is that every penny of our hard earned tax dollars is spent on entitlements and paying interest on our current debt. Everything we spend on the necessary functions of government, including national defense, simply adds to the debt. This year, we will pay over 206 billion dollars in interest. But in five years, that number will balloon to an estimated 562 billion dollars – and continue to rise. In order to afford just the interest on our national debt, we will be forced to cut nearly half of all discretionary spending in just five years.
Yet, right now, Senate Democratic leadership refuses to even consider spending reductions of three percent. If the President and his party cannot take our nation’s spending crisis seriously now, they will clearly be unable to do so when we consider the 2012 budget next month. Republicans cannot kick our country’s debt addiction alone.
In this year’s spending and next year’s ten year budget, member of both parties have not just an opportunity but an obligation to vote for plans that put our nation back on sound fiscal footing. Anything less is legislative malpractice.