July 2010
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Congress Should Pass a Budget

By Congressman Michael Turner

For nearly seven months this year, Congress has failed to produce a budget. Each day, red ink continues to flow from Congress, further damaging the American economy.

On June 23rd, 2010 the House Majority Leader said the House could not pass a budget until the bipartisan Commission on Deficit Reduction makes its recommendations – at the end of the year, after Election Day.

Then a week later, he said the Majority will not draft a budget; they will “deem” it passed so they can begin to approve unfunded spending bills.

As House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt said in 2004 – before he became Chairman of the Budget Committee — “If you can’t budget, you can’t govern.” Ironically, he went on to say, “If you can’t budget, you’re not fit to govern.”

On June 30, in just one day, our nation’s debt jumped by just under $166 billion. Yet just a week later, on July 6, Chairman Spratt told the Herald newspaper, “Don’t worry about the fact we don’t have a budget.”

This is the third-largest increase in U.S. history, bigger than the entire annual deficit for fiscal year 2007. Yet this latest explosion of debt comes at a time when leaders of the majority in Congress have decided not to even try to set a budget.

It seems to me Chairman Spratt was right back in 2004. Numbers don’t lie. Since President Obama took office, red ink has flowed at a shocking average rate of $4.9 billion a day, yet the president and the majority in Congress refuse to tackle the problem.

Closing this gap with tax increases is no solution. We must encourage private industry, and encourage investment and spending by small business and the middle class. We can only do that if we balance the budget with sensible spending cuts, not tax increases.

Our economy is threatened by too much debt because of a government that spends too much and taxes too much. Yet in the past several weeks, the House majority has refused to even allow a vote on more than $115 billion in spending cuts.

In just six months, on January 1, 2011 the biggest tax increases in our nation’s history will go into effect. They will hit families and small businesses – the backbone of our economy – the hardest. These tax increases include increases in personal income tax rates; the death tax; higher taxes for married couples and families; higher capital gains tax rates on savings and investments; elimination of using health savings or flexible spending accounts to buy over-the-counter medicines; capping the use of flexible spending accounts; an increased penalty on early withdrawals from health savings accounts; near-elimination of expensing equipment for small businesses, and total elimination of expensing by larger businesses; many other tax increases for all businesses, the largest of which is elimination of the “research and experimentation tax credit,” which combined with higher marginal tax rates will cost jobs; reduction in tax deductions and credits for education and teaching expenses, including the student loan interest deduction; and disallowing charitable deductions from IRAs.

These changes will have very real, negative implications for Americans and American businesses. Yet the majority in Congress refuses to pass a budget and address our ballooning national debt.

Only in Washington can you “deem” a budget. American families cannot “deem” their own budgets; they have to balance them.

If we are not going to do a budget, allowing up-or down votes on proposals to make real spending cuts would be a good start. So would scheduling a vote on each of the program eliminations the President proposed in his budget this year. Every member may not support every proposed cut, but they should each be considered.

We can and should agree, on a bipartisan basis, that we will not support new “stimulus” spending that is not paid for with spending cuts elsewhere. And while millions in the private sector have taken pay cuts or lost their jobs, we can and should freeze new federal civilian employee hiring and wages, for at least a year.

Red ink is flowing out of Washington. There are solutions, but first, the Majority party must understand there is a problem.

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