President's Budget Fails To Get Spending Under Control

May 4, 2009

Every year, Congress works on a budget that sets priorities and guides expenditures of taxpayer dollars.  A similar process plays out at desks and kitchen tables across Mississippi and the nation, as families and small businesses look at their expected income and expenditures and chart a responsible budget that works.  In return, they expect the federal government to do the same.  Unfortunately for taxpayers, that has not happened.  
                                 TAX AND SPEND
On the heels of trillions of dollars of spending on the Wall Street bailout and bloated stimulus bills – measures I strongly opposed – the recently-passed budget makes no hard choices to get runaway spending under control.  Rather than tightening Uncle Sam’s belt, this budget loosens it by spending $3.5 trillion in 2010 – an increase of nearly 20 percent since 2008. 

This spending spree is coupled with massive tax increases.  The budget calls for a staggering $1.5 trillion tax increase over the next 10 years, which represents the largest tax hike in history.  Even though small businesses create 70 percent of the new jobs in America, they would be hit hard by this budget’s tax increases.  Families also pay the price, as the president’s “cap-and-trade” plan in his budget would result in a new national energy tax costing the average household up to $3,000 per year. 

The budget’s tax increases are still not enough to cover the cost of its increased spending, resulting in a crushing amount of new debt.  The president’s budget doubles the national debt in five years and nearly triples it in 10 years.  By 2020, this budget will spend nearly four times more on interest payments on our debt than on education, energy, and transportation combined.
                                ENTITLEMENT REFORM
Of all the difficult decisions this budget fails to make, the most glaring is its neglect to address entitlement reform.  Spending for our government’s entitlement programs – including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid – is on auto pilot and set to explode as more and more Baby Boomers retire.  Entitlement spending already consumes more than half the entire federal budget and is growing at an unsustainable rate of 6 percent per year.  By 2015, entitlements will consume 62 percent of the federal government’s budget.  By 2040, Americans will be forced to pay double today’s rate of taxes to maintain the current level of entitlement benefits.  This crushing tax burden hanging over our heads is a threat to our entire economy.  Considering the consequences, it is a problem that deserves immediate attention.

One approach that has been discussed is a bipartisan commission consisting of members of Congress and administration officials.  The commission would be tasked with making entitlement reform recommendations that would help get our long-term budget back on a sustainable track.  The commission’s proposal would then receive expedited consideration for an up-or-down vote in Congress.  Modeled after the military base-closure commission process, this procedure would help de-politicize the debate so progress could be more easily made.  I believe this approach has merit, and it should be looked at more closely by both the president and Congress.   
                               RESPONSIBLE PLAN NEEDED
There is no doubt the president came into office with significant challenges before him.  To address our economy’s woes, a temporary increase in spending may have been needed.  But there are limits, and this budget far exceeded them. 

I understand the challenges facing Mississippi’s families and small businesses, and I will not add to them by voting to allow Washington to take more of their money while continuing to borrow on the backs of their children and grandchildren.  By failing to make difficult decisions and instead relying on massive tax and spending increases, that is exactly what this budget does.