Economy & Budget

An unserious budget

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor Monday regarding President Obama’s budget:

Earlier today, President Obama showed the American people just how he intends to spend their tax dollars, and how much more he intends to borrow, to fund his vision of the future. And it’s a huge disappointment to those in both parties who were hoping the president would take this opportunity to address the grave and imminent fiscal crises we face. The president's budget is the clearest sign yet he simply does not take our fiscal problems seriously.

It is a patronizing plan that says to the American people that their concerns are not his concerns.

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Obama’s budget is just more of the same

Last year when I was running for Congress, I spoke at length about the need to rein in runaway government spending. As a grandmother of six, I told voters that I did not want the government to mortgage future generations to pay for a federal spending spree.

Throughout the 6th District of Tennessee, people are outraged that the national debt has skyrocketed to over $14 trillion. They believe that Congress needs to stop the endless cycle of "borrow and spend," and that’s why they sent me to Washington.

After watching the reckless spending spree of the past few years, I knew getting our nation’s finances in order would be difficult. But now that I’m here in Washington examining how the government spends our money, I can honestly say the situation is worse than I ever imagined. Today, with the release of the President’s budget, it is clear that this Administration is still unwilling to make the tough choices necessary to get America back on track.

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Congress must embrace budget challenges

Today, President Obama submitted his budget proposal for FY2012. Now, the American people will be able to see just how serious Mr. Obama is about getting our federal spending under control. From what I can see, we have a long way to go.

As a Member of the Budget Committee, my colleagues and I welcome the difficult task of reining in spending and putting this nation back down a path to prosperity. Budget Chairman Ryan has worked diligently to lower spending and craft a budget that is in fidelity to many of our funding commitments, while being cognizant of this new age of austerity. I support his goals and look forward to working alongside him to achieve them.

Our national debt now stands at over $14 trillion and is the accumulation of decades of irresponsible spending by both Republicans and Democrats. It will take more than just a year to unilaterally cure our fiscal problems, but we must start today. What we can do today on the Budget Committee is honor our pledge to the American people to cut spending in measurable ways.

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Republican budget cuts promote 'trickle up' poverty

How appropriate that Washington’s most challenging budget crisis in decade coincides with the Republican Party’s centenary birthday celebration of Ronald Reagan, whose attacks on “welfare queens” and the social safety net in the name of deficit reduction caused indisputable collateral damage to middle class Americans. The Ronnie-like budget cuts that Republican leaders are proposing today—against unemployment insurance, food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing—all boast the potential to carry on the Reagan tradition of hurting the very middle class they aspire to help. 

Why? Because the cuts to the programs the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives are targeting would increase poverty, and more poverty lowers property values, diminishes the quality of life, and drives up family taxes and expenses of middle class Americans. 

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The spending spree is over

As the debate over the budget begins, all sides must acknowledge one sad and inescapable fact: Every dollar Congress spends is borrowed money. More specifically, each of the $2.23 trillion dollars that the Treasury takes in this fiscal year will go directly to pay for entitlement programs and interest on our massive, spiraling debt. Worse still, the federal government will need to borrow $105 billion to cover existing obligations before the fiscal year has even begun.

The Obama Administration's profligacy - evidenced by a $3 trillion increase in the national debt and a nearly 50% increase in spending - has made the hole cavernous. The only way we can begin to dig ourselves out of it is to cut spending immediately and drastically, which is exactly what House conservatives have done.

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Taking budget cues from President Reagan

The greatest president in the modern era would have turned 100 years of age Feb. 6. I was in high school when he became the 40th President of the Unites States, and his leadership inspired me to enter public service.

I am thankful for President Reagan’s life; for what he did for our country and for our world. He caused us to believe in ourselves again and to believe in the American dream. He loved his country. And he loved the cause of freedom.

He knew then what we know to be true today; that the answer to our problems lies not in the hands of government, but in each of us. He famously said that “government wasn’t the answer, government was the problem.” He didn’t say it for any other reason except that he meant it. He believed it. And he was right.

President Reagan believed that government had grown too big. He believed that high taxes stifled the economy and American creativity. And he was right. 

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Try state responsibility, not state bankruptcy

Many Americans are familiar with the tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes. In Hans Christian Andersen’s story, an emperor’s weavers fashion him a garment made of fine fabric and tell him that it is invisible only to those who are unfit to be emperor. Though he cannot see the suit, the emperor wants to be considered worthy of his job, and so puts on the invisible garment and parades through town. It is not until a child calls out “the emperor has no clothes” that the emperor realizes he has been fooled.             

Several states could learn from Andersen’s tale of foolishness and folly. Much like the weavers in this story, many states have promised their public employees the finest pension benefits but have funded their pension obligations with invisible money. 

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Power grab: FERC, fairness and the future of transmission

Just before Christmas, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved an order that will force Michigan to pay hundreds of millions of dollars annually for new power lines that provide no benefit to the state’s consumers.

Homeowners and businesses in other states, beware.  If, as expected, FERC goes national this spring with a regulation that also broadly socializes the costs of new transmission, consumers throughout the United States will feel Michigan’s pain. 

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Are unnecessary regulations stifling job growth?

After two years, President Obama finally met with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber is an active voice for businesses across the country, so one would think a president who claims he is looking to lower the unemployment rate would want to sit down and work with the Chamber to find solutions that promote job growth.

While late is better than never, there is no doubt following this address that the president still needs to develop a clearer understanding of what businesses – both small and large – need and find out how we can strengthen our economy and get folks back to work.

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What Netflix could learn from DC sewage treatment

I have two jobs. One of them – the full-time job that pays the bills – involves directing government affairs for a trade association of internet service providers (ISPs) and telecom companies. The other – a volunteer position – is my service on the Board of Directors of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (WASA).

Until last week, I never encountered any intersections between those two very different roles. Then I read Netflix CEO Reed Hastings’ January 26th letter to his shareholders offering his views on who should bear the costs of transporting and delivering his company’s high- volume, bandwidth-hogging Internet video service to its customers. A light bulb went on in my head: There’s a lesson that Hastings and his customers could take from how the Washington area pays for sewage disposal.

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