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Blaine's Bulletin: Getting Our Country On a Path to Fiscal Sanity

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Washington, April 22, 2016 | comments
Whether I am traveling around the 3rd District or meeting with constituents in Washington, one common-theme I hear is that you are rightfully concerned about the nation’s spending. I agree with you: our nation’s spending is unacceptably high. That’s why this week, I’d like to dive a little bit deeper into the true drivers of government spending and how we can get our country back on a path to fiscal sanity.
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Whether I am traveling around the 3rd District or meeting with constituents in Washington, one common-theme I hear is that you are rightfully concerned about the nation’s spending. I agree with you: our nation’s spending is unacceptably high. That’s why this week, I’d like to dive a little bit deeper into the true drivers of government spending and how we can get our country back on a path to fiscal sanity.

There are two sides of the federal budget: discretionary and mandatory. Discretionary spending must be approved every year and funds things like transportation and the military. While more progress must be made, House Republicans have actually made progress on this side of the ledger. Since taking control of the House in 2011, Republicans have cut discretionary spending by more than $185 billion leading to the first three-year stretch of declining federal outlays since President Dwight Eisenhower’s first term. By forcing long-term spending caps, House Republicans have helped reduce the annual budget deficit by two-thirds since 2011. While our current debt level is unacceptable, we can all agree that we are moving in the right direction by cutting spending, not adding to it.

Within these overall cuts to discretionary spending have been a number of conservative victories; for example, we cut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget by $452 million below the president’s request, holding the agency to its lowest funding levels since 2008 and its lowest staffing levels since 1989. I have also supported legislation that reins in the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by freezing most operations and imposing significant budget cuts necessary to ensure this agency eliminates waste and abuse and shifts its focus to serving American taxpayers.

So what is driving the debt? The key drivers of the debt are the mandatory programs, which are on auto-pilot. Social Security and Medicare are the two biggest mandatory programs, followed by Medicaid. This type of auto-pilot spending has grown from one-third of all spending 50 years ago to two-thirds today and is on pace to consume an ever larger share of the budget. If we don’t change the trajectory of mandatory spending, by 2034, all federal revenues will be consumed by Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, Social Security, and interest on the debt, leaving no funding for core Constitutional responsibilities such as national defense. Both Social Security and Medicare are lifelines for many individuals across our nation and for these programs to remain sustainable, solvent, and available for current and future beneficiaries – they must be put on a different path.

One solution that is sorely needed is the addition of a balanced budget amendment to our Constitution.  Individuals, families, businesses, and states must balance their budgets, and so should the federal government. That’s why I have cosponsored a balanced budget amendment each year since coming to Congress. This would permanently change the way Congress views spending and would help prevent future generations from going through the same crisis our country currently faces.

One more piece of the puzzle is the need to continue to challenge the Obama Administration on its out of control rules and regulations that are strangling economic growth. One bill I recently cosponsored is the End Executive Overreach Act, which would defund any new executive orders and suspend agencies’ rulemaking authority. If passed, this bill would eliminate all funding for any executive orders or regulations issued from the time of enactment of the bill until the end of the Obama administration. We need to focus on growing the economy through less regulations and lowering taxes. That will help balance the budget and begin to pay down the debt and our nation can move forward.

If you ever have any questions regarding the budget, please do not hesitate to give me or my staff a call; we are ready and willing to help and serve you. 

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