Congress must reduce government spending

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By Congressman Bob Goodlatte

Just days ago President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform met for the first time.  At that meeting Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke expressed extreme concern over the effect of out-of-control government spending on the future of our nation’s struggling economy.  Bernanke warned that “even after economic and financial conditions have returned to normal, in the absence of further policy actions, the federal budget appears set to remain on an unsustainable path.”  This same message was previously delivered by Peter Orszag, the President’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget.  When speaking to a group at New York University he said “deficits of this size are serious and ultimately unsustainable.”

The federal budget deficit is projected to exceed $1 trillion for the next two fiscal years and exceed $800 billion annually for at least the next decade.  While Chairman Bernanke and Director Orszag are right, their warning is not consistent with their actions.  They promoted the government purchase of private businesses and assets in the TARP legislation, wasteful spending in the so-called stimulus bill and a $1.6 trillion shortfall in the budget for next year.  We simply cannot continue down this fiscally irresponsible path. It is time Congress takes control of spending instead of letting it control the Congress.

Last week, with the support of an overwhelming majority of Republicans in the House, I introduced legislation aimed at saving taxpayer money and reducing the deficit by reforming the often abused earmark process.  In an effort to rein in government spending, the House Republican Conference recently adopted a party rule that instills a year-long moratorium on Members obtaining earmarks in the appropriations process. While this is a positive step, more must be done to actually save taxpayers’ money.  Earmarks are only a very small percentage, less than one percent, of government spending but irresponsible earmarks are emblematic of a larger problem and indicate the lack of scrutiny and tough decision making that Congress applies to the entire government budget and spending process. My legislation calls on House Democrats to join House Republicans in a one year moratorium on all earmarks and directs total discretionary spending to be reduced by the same amount saved by this earmark moratorium.

Additionally, I have introduced bipartisan legislation which forces Congress to enact fiscally responsible spending measures and reduce the deficit by requiring that total spending for any fiscal year not exceed total receipts. By requiring the federal government to balance the budget it ensures that Congress and the President are held accountable to the American taxpayers. 

Working to reduce government spending is a significant undertaking and one to which I remain firmly dedicated even in a Congress where excessive spending runs rampant.  Congress must balance the budget and ultimately eliminating the debt by being good stewards of taxpayer money. I believe it is our duty as Members of Congress to exercise great care and responsibility in managing our spending priorities and I will continue working to make sure the hard-earned dollars of my constituents are handled responsibly in Congress and that wasteful government spending is stopped.