2011 Newsletter - Vol. V
It is no secret that America's economy is unstable, and that in order to secure a better future for our children and grandchildren, the status quo must change. America is in its current debt crisis not because Washington has a revenue problem, but because it has a spending problem. Consequently, serious budget cuts are necessary to get the country's economy back on track.
Debt Crisis by the Numbers:
- The country is over $14.5 trillion dollars in debt, and counting
- The national debt roughly equals the size of our economy and has increased by $3.7 trillion in the last 18 months, since President Obama took office
- America borrows over 40 cents on every dollar it spends, much of it from China
- The unemployment rate is at 9.1% and is expected to average 9.4% for 2011, according to the Congressional Budget office (CBO)
The Administration continues to believe that out-of-control spending is acceptable, leaving the responsibility for picking up the tab to the American people. Republicans disagree with this manner of doing business. It is time to seriously address the issue of spending cuts in order to achieve a balanced budget.
DEBT LIMIT NEGOTIATIONS
The debt ceiling debate over the past few months has been a long process. The negotiations were difficult in that the President and Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) continually stood in direct opposition to a responsible debt solution. The President never offered a plan - merely vague framework - and the Senate waited until the day of the deadline before finally passing a bill, the House's Budget Control Act. Conversely, the Republican-led House voted on five bills, three of which passed and were sent to the Senate.
When America reached its debt ceiling in mid May, the President originally asked Congress for a debt ceiling increase without any spending cuts or reforms to the federal budget. This stance was far out of step with the American people's demands to cut spending and save our country from national bankruptcy. The House brought a bill that contained no spending cuts to the Floor on May 31st to demonstrate that the President's proposed "clean" increase for more reckless spending would not pass.
The next step the House took in order to come up with a solution to the debt ceiling was to pass the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act of 2011 on July 19th. I supported this bill, which the Democrat-led Senate ultimately defeated.
Ten days later, the Senate had yet to even pass a budget. The House again passed a bill - Speaker Boehner's Budget Control Act of 2011. While the bill wasn't perfect, I voted for it in order to keep negotiations going and force the Senate to act before the August 2nd deadline was reached.
The following day, the House took Senate Leader Reid's proposal to the Floor. The Reid bill's debt ceiling increase far outweighed spending cuts, once phony "savings" were accounted for. It was a bad bill, which had not yet passed the Senate due to the fact that the chamber did not have the support necessary to pass its own legislation. The House defeated the Reid bill to proactively show that it didn't have enough votes, and to convince the Senate not to waste any more time on something that couldn't pass either chamber.
On August 1st, the House passed a revised version of the Budget Control Act. This final bill was sent to the Senate, where it passed, achieving a debt ceiling bill before the August 2nd deadline, which the President signed.
While I respect the Leadership for their efforts in getting the best deal they could in this debt negotiation process, a deal which is better than I thought possible, I could not, in good conscience, vote in favor of a bill that the majority of my constituents who contacted me did not support. Therefore, I voted against the second Budget Control Act.
Now law, the new Budget Control Act contains weaker Balanced Budget Amendment language than other bills I voted for, and also presents serious risks to Defense funding, which could endanger troops and national security. However, there are good provisions in the bill, including immediate spending cuts and no tax hikes. The bill does not affect Medicare or Social Security, it slowly redirects America to a path of more fiscal responsibility, and also avoids the potential impact of a federal default.
Throughout these negotiations, I hoped for a bill that would make significant spending cuts exceeding the debt limit increase, but would not compromise on the demands of my District. I had been in constant personal and telephone contact with constituents, receiving calls and emails, and listening to the concerns of those I represent as the final bill was being debated. Many of my constituents called and wrote to express their opposition, and my job is to represent those who have elected me. I have always said I would rather be respected at home than liked in Washington.
AMERICA'S CREDIT RATING
Standard & Poor's (S&P) has now lowered America's credit from a AAA rating to a AA+ rating. With our country's $14.5 trillion national debt, S&P had warned that without a minimum of $4 trillion in cuts, our credit rating would be downgraded. Republicans took this warning to heart and have spent the past six months fighting for responsible spending to avoid national bankruptcy. These responsible measures were road blocked continually by the Democrat-led Senate and White House, which have continued to call for increased spending, tax increases, and offered no solution to pay off our staggering debt.
While the responsibility of the nation's debt crisis falls on all Washington, it is clear that the current Administration has accelerated this problem. They did not head S&P's warning, and refused to listen to America's demands for spending cuts and budget accountability.
S&P also cautioned that America's outlook remains negative, and that another downgrade could be forthcoming in the near future. I hope that some good comes out of this situation, in that the President will finally work with the House to press the brakes on our nation's road to bankruptcy.
BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT
As a longtime supporter and co-sponsor of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, I believe passage of this amendment is an important step in achieving fiscal responsibility in America. A Balanced Budget Amendment would direct Congress to pass a balanced budget annually, requiring the federal government to live within its means. The fact that the last Congress failed to pass a budget of any kind, coupled with the seriousness of our national debt, is proof enough that an amendment such as this is necessary.
With the debt ceiling negotiations that just took place, a debate and vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment, which will occur sometime between September 30th and December 31st, is very timely.
Balancing the federal budget must be a top priority. American families and 49 states balance their budgets every year, and it is crucial to America's economic security that the federal government do the same.
I will continue to fight the culture of overspending in Washington and help restore fiscal responsibility to the federal government by working to achieve a balanced budget and a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.
SAVINGS IN SCIENCE, SPACE, AND TECHNOLOGY
As Chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, my colleagues and I, mindful of the historically high federal deficit, have focused on reducing research and development (R&D) authorization levels and defeating amendments attempting to add costs to legislation. While these cuts are hard, they are necessary, and I recognize that all of Congress has been called upon to find savings across the board in order to rein in the government's out-of-control spending.
This Congress, the Science, Space, and Technology Committee has cut or prevented over $756.1 million in proposed spending. These cuts target unnecessary spending costs, including: $140 million in authorized spending at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), returning the R&D budget to fiscal year 2008 levels, and $15.9 million in proposed additional spending; $568 million in proposed spending to Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs; and $33.2 million in proposed spending to Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control.
MEDICAL DEBT RESPONSIBILITY ACT
On June 2, Iintroduced H.R. 2086, the Medical Debt Responsibility Act of 2011, along with Reps. Don Manzullo (R-IL), and Heath Shuler (D-NC). I am pleased to be a sponsor of this bipartisan bill, which costs the taxpayer nothing to implement, and that recognizes the difficulties and inconsistencies relating to medical debt.
The Medical Debt Responsibility Actrequires that medical bills of $2,500 or less, which have gone to collection but now have a zero balance, be removed from credit reports within 45 days. Presently, medical debt that has been completely paid off or settled can still remain reflected on consumers' credit scores for up to seven years. As a result, millions of hard working and credit-worthy Americans are being denied credit and are paying higher interest rates on mortgages. This bill enables Americans access to credit they can use to purchase homes and major consumer goods.
At a time when our economy is unstable, this is a small but important step to bolstering financial certainty for Americans by helping millions of credit-worthy Americans receive the credit score they deserve.
My constituents have made clear their expectations of a more frugal Washington, and I will work hard to make sure their voices are heard. I will continue to focus on long-term spending cuts and reforms, achieving a balanced budget, and fighting against tax hikes in an effort to promote job creation and economic growth. Your concerns are my priority,
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011
2011 Newsletter - Vol. V
Posted by Titus GOP at 6:13 PM