Budget concerns from a business owner’s perspective

Sadly, our congressional budget process isn’t as focused as running a business. Many competing interests, agencies and people push and pull to create our government’s priorities.

Beyond those competing interests even, President Obama laid out his spending agenda with the recent release of his budget for FY 2012. The president’s budget represents, in my view, a failure to tackle the major fiscal problems facing our government today. Instead it kicks the can down the road and puts this nation more firmly on a fiscally dangerous path. It spends, taxes and borrows far too much — putting us even further into a hole of debt.

So what should be done? Our president could stand to learn what business has known for a long time, and that is this: if you operate with a negative cash flow for too long, eventually your creditors will stop lending.

Our spending can’t rise continually without consequence. One need only look across the Atlantic Ocean to countries like Greece to see what happens when politicians ignore the reality of debts, deficits and entitlements.

I’m able to report, though, that as a member of the Budget Committee, we are working to change America’s view of our fiscal priorities. We can’t simply print more money when we run out, or push our problems onto the next generation — it’s unjust to saddle our grandchildren with our excess.

Protecting the next generation is the main reason I came to Congress. I was fed up with Washington ignoring issues and refusing to step up and make the tough calls, politically difficult as they may be, that are necessary to put our country on the path to sustainability.

I’m confident that as the House of Representatives begins to cut the budget and set new priorities we’ll soon get America back on that sustainable path of jobs, growth and investment in the private sector.

Thankfully, our spending and budget priorities are beginning to change. The tenor of the debate happening now brings some reassurance to budget hawks and fiscal conservatives who believe that government should be as large as the citizens are willing to pay for, not artificially larger by continually financing operations through greater and greater debt.

This really is not a debate on whether to cut spending, but on how much spending to cut. That, to me, is the debate to have. Congress has moved to the point where nearly all believe that cuts are necessary and inevitable and that we must act to keep our future generations from being imprisoned by debt.

Whether it’s this week through a continuing resolution, or whether it’s in the upcoming Budget Resolution in a few months, cuts are happening and Republicans are focused and working on getting spending under control like we promised. We’re cutting $100 billion out of a record budget — we’re shrinking government not a moment too soon.

We’re putting our country back on a path toward real job creation and growth. That is what we were sent here to do and we intend to fulfill our end of the bargain.

As a small-business owner, I can speak with confidence in the knowledge that when investors, entrepreneurs, small-business owners and job creators have a little more certainty from our federal government on items such as spending, they’ll be much more likely to take the necessary risks that help our economy grow and create jobs.

Many smart men and women on both sides of the aisle have called our looming federal debt and deficit unsustainable. Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf called it “unsupportable,” and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke agreed with me when I asked if he thought our spending was “reckless” in a recent hearing.

What we all agree on in principle now must be forcibly enacted in practice. It will be difficult and painful, but many necessary and worthwhile tasks are. Republicans have the chance now to not just talk about cutting spending, but to actually do it. Our economy’s health depends on it, and we are up to the challenge.

Ribble is a freshman member of the House Budget Committee.