Washington Report

The Budget Process Cannot Be Ignored

By Congressman Adrian Smith

At its most fundamental level, the duty of Congress is to steward the government’s revenue. Lately, all it’s been doing is spending it. To shoulder this responsibility appropriately, annually Congress drafts a budget, establishing a fiscal blueprint for government to follow on spending decisions.

Our nation faces enormous and unheard of financial challenges.  Every penny of debt accumulated must be paid by our children and grandchildren, but it is not too late to change the course of our fiscal fate.

President Obama’s budget proposed for fiscal year 2011 clocked in at an amazing $3.8 trillion.  If passed, this budget would increase spending by record levels, sending our nation’s deficits dangerously high and – if implemented – would still raise taxes.  His budget proposal also would add $14 trillion to our nation’s debt over the next ten years.

As distressing as those numbers sound, credit should be given to the Administration for at least submitting a budget to Congress.  The deadline for the House of Representatives to pass an actual budget has come and passed without even so much as a committee vote.

Indeed, there have been indications the House may not consider a budget resolution this year at all, an unprecedented development.  In fact, the House of Representatives always has passed a budget resolution since the current rules which govern the modern congressional budgeting process were put into place in 1974. The budget is then used to set spending parameters for the appropriations process. Without a budget, the only spending rule is there are no rules.

Having served on the House Budget Committee, I know the process can be frustrating and arduous for both Republicans and Democrats, but that is no excuse for a lack of leadership. Families, businesses, organizations big and small, even cities and states have had to face the harsh realities of a struggling economy and financially difficult times; Congress must do the same.

Regardless of the differences I have with several of my colleagues on spending, taxation, and debt, there can be no doubt this is a debate we need to have.

Our nation’s long-term fiscal outlook is unsustainable and our economy continues to face serious challenges on the road to recovery.  Small businesses and entrepreneurs need certainty for access to capital and long-range planning.  The longer Congress waits to deal with the fiscal challenges facing our nation, the greater harm will come to our economy.

Small businesses are struggling to comprehend exactly what the impact of the recently-passed health care legislation will be, and several companies have already stated it will hurt their bottom line.  Congress is still failing to meet promises of energy independence by not adopting an “all of the above” approach to energy development.  Since President Obama signed the stimulus bill into law, more than 2 million Americans have lost their jobs and the unemployment rate has soared to nearly 10 percent.

Unless we rein-in the size and scope of the federal government and focus on true economic reform and job growth, our country will face the problems which come with an uncertain economy.

I am committed to commonsense approaches to the problems plaguing our nation, but scattered and haphazard gimmicks billed as fixes, such as the stimulus and various bailouts, are not the way to go.  We need a practical, workable federal budget which limits spending and puts our fiscal house back in order.

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