By Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) - 03/02/10 09:18 PM EST
During the campaign, Sen. Barack Obama promised he would go through the budget line by line to reduce spending. Over this past year, President Obama made speech after speech about the need for Washington to restore fiscal discipline. The president rushed to the microphone last spring to announce his order to his Cabinet to reduce spending by $100 million. Then, prior to releasing his budget this year, he touted more fiscal restraint by announcing a spending freeze, which we quickly learned only affects less than 20 percent of the budget.
If the president is serious about fiscal discipline, he is going to have to remove more than a couple of peanuts from the federal budget. These meager cuts are just another example of the administration’s arrogance, ignorance and incompetence.
For decades, Congress has been allowing presidents to take the lead on drafting the federal budget. In fact, Congress passed a law mandating a presidential budget. However, this is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the Constitution. In fact, they gave the power of the purse — called “that powerful instrument” by James Madison — to the House of Representatives, the House that is closest to We the People.
It is time for Congress to take back its constitutional authority and stop waiting on the president’s budget before acting. Over the years, presidents from both parties have touted their intentions to balance the federal budget. They have always been quick to make pledges and promises even though they have no authority to pass legislation.
In 1995, Congress was just one vote short of passing a balanced budget amendment. If that amendment had passed, can you imagine how much leaner our government would be today? This is why I have decided to revive the balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We must ensure that the big spenders are kept in check.
My balanced budget amendment, H.J. Res. 75, would force each fiscal year to make up any imbalances in the previous year’s estimates by placing that amount in the spending column. If the American family overspends or hits hard times, they have to adjust —Congress should be expected to do the same. After decades of deficit spending, it is time to make balancing our budgets the rule — not the exception.
President Obama has added more to the national debt than every president combined from George Washington through George W. Bush. What that means is that each taxpayer owes about $40,304; to put that in perspective, the average household income is just $50,233.
Future projections are not much rosier. Obama’s bloated budget places the burden of his overreaching agenda on future administrations. According to the president’s own numbers, the deficit is projected to increase dramatically in 2019 and 2020. Future generations will foot this bill, stealing our children’s and grandchildren’s future if we continue this kind of reckless and outrageous spending.
Rather than squeezing every last penny out of the pockets of families and small businesses, my balanced budget amendment would require all surplus revenue at the end of the fiscal year to be returned to the American taxpayer.
Congress must act now to make tough
decisions, shrink the size of government, and get back to the fiscally responsible
government that the American people expect and demand. I urge my
colleagues to pass H.J.Res. 75, and I hope that the American people will demand
a balanced budget from this and all future Congresses.
Broun is a member of the House committees on Homeland Security; Natural Resources; and Science and Technology.