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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Rep. Brat: House leaders don’t get it on slashing the federal budget

Rep. Brat: House leaders don’t get it on slashing the federal budget
By Rep. David Brat | May 12 | The Washington Post

Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va. says House Republican
leaders are going down the wrong path on the budget.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Conservatives are supposed to stand for fiscal discipline, balanced budgets and reducing government waste.

Yet House leadership is currently whipping votes for a bad budget deal that was negotiated behind closed doors by party leaders that blows through the budget caps.
Despite Republican control of both the Senate and the House, the deficit is set to go up over $100 billion to the $530 billion range. Last year marked the highest level of federal government spending ever.
All this spending is on the backs of our kids. They have no effective lobby on Capitol Hill, so they lose to a D.C. bureaucracy that is incapable of listening to the American people.
Leadership has already begun work on a number of spending bills that appropriate taxpayer dollars at unprecedented levels — even though Congress has yet to pass a budget!
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) initially announced a budget resolution deadline of March 15 — but no vote was held even by the April 15 statutory deadline.
All of this action, all of these decisions, are in the hands of a few.
Congress’s discretionary spending level for fiscal year 2017 was capped at $1.040 trillion for fiscal year 2017 due to previous spending agreements dating back to 2011. But last year, outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) negotiated a deal with President Obama that broke the sequester caps and increased government spending by $30 billion to a historic $1.070 trillion for fiscal year 2017. Although this bill was opposed by the majority of House Republicans, it passed thanks to 79 Republicans who voted for it along with all 187 Democrats.
The country faces an imminent fiscal crisis, and the Republican Party has an obligation to change the direction we are headed. The federal government does not have to keep spending at unprecedented and unsustainable levels. The founders placed the power of the purse in the hands of Congress.
We don’t know what will happen with the presidential election, but we – the Republicans who have a majority in the People’s House – have an historic opportunity to change the direction of our country now. Given that our children’s futures are at stake, it is our responsibility to make sure we get this right and do not pass the buck with a continuing resolution (that spends more of taxpayers’ hard-earned money) in the fall.
Congress should not allow a passive outcome, where we back into spending $1.070 trillion as the default because Republicans in the House failed to lead when we had the opportunity to do so.
Republican leadership has been on a “listening tour;” and we in the House Freedom Caucus have provide countless solutions on how to trim $30 billion from the Obama-Boehner deal budget number.
While a balanced budget would require $530 billion in savings, the House Freedom Caucus compromised and requested $30 billion in savings be trimmed from the budget. Whether the savings comes from reforming autopilot or annual spending, or through a “sidecar” attached to a must-pass bill, we have simply been looking for a way to enact real savings now.
We are not getting enough feedback from leadership as to which solutions are acceptable, and which are not. If none of the ideas we have offered are favorable, we need to know why so we can think through the problem and find new solutions. The information feedback loop is broken, and as an economist that’s very frustrating.
The fact that the House budget is at a standstill over $30 billion reveals how unserious some within the Republican Party are about fiscal discipline and actually addressing our national debt crisis.
The federal budget deficit will swell in relation to GDP this year for the first time since 2009, ballooning to an estimated $534 billion in 2016, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. If Congress continues on its current path of spending, the deficit will surpass $1 trillion by 2022 and every year thereafter. Thirty trillion in debt in a decade. Feel the Bern and you will be at $40 trillion. Yes with a T.
We have only to look to Puerto Rico to see where Washington’s addiction to spending can lead. Many have argued that Trump may not be conservative on fiscal issues. That argument is hot air if Congress itself cannot walk the walk. There is nothing conservative about the Obama-Boehner budget deal, which leadership is urging us to support.
If we are serious about fiscal discipline and a brighter future for our country, as conservatives say they are, we must pass a budget that actually reins in federal spending.

Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) is a member of the Budget Committee and the House Freedom Caucus. Before serving in Congress,  he worked for the World Bank assisting developing world economies and was an economics professor and chairman of the economics department at Randolph Macon College.

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