Submitted by Rep. Tim Walberg
Overspending has taken a toll and is undermining our economic recovery. We’re now more than $16 trillion in debt and millions of hard-working taxpayers continue to face uncertainty on how Washington will manage their tax dollars. This is unfair.
Families and small businesses in Michigan plan and live within their means in large part because they create responsible and sensible budgets. Congress needs to manage its spending more like the people that it seeks to serve by cutting the federal budget and not your family’s budget.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate has not taken its cue from hard-working Americans and has not fulfilled one its most basic of duties for almost four years: passing a budget. The Senate last passed a budget in April 2009. Since then, more than $5 trillion has been added to the national debt. In that same amount of time, you could earn a degree in accounting; astronauts could make 179 round trips to the moon; and three Pentagons could be built. Meanwhile, in half that time, House Republicans passed responsible budgets that promote a healthy economy and address our debt crisis.
Both Republicans and Democrats can agree our massive debt is undermining our economic recovery. However, while an increase in the debt limit might help us avoid an initial default, an increase that is not accompanied by responsible spending reductions will put us closer to a downgraded credit rating that will hurt families and destroy jobs. Fitch Ratings recently concurred that without a credible plan to cut our deficit our nation is headed toward another downgrade. Standard & Poor’s already stripped the U.S. of its AAA credit rating in 2011 for the first time in our history.
The House voted last week in favor of a temporary three-month debt limit increase to avoid default, but only for the payment of already-approved immediate obligations. More important, the No Budget, No Pay Act obligates both the House and the Senate to each pass a budget or paychecks will be withheld to members of Congress. The bill will hold the Senate accountable for its failure to pass a budget and I believe can only help put Congress on a path of balancing the budget within a decade.
If Congress can’t do its job, it shouldn’t get a paycheck. Sometimes doing our job means making tough, but necessary choices. The first step in solving our debt crisis is to realize that we can’t until we stop spending beyond our means. But by making responsible choices and putting the right reforms in place, we can.
I remain committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in passing legislation that controls spending, meets our obligations and moves us towards a healthier economy. We can do this.
Editor's note: Rep. Tim Walberg represents Michigan's 7th Congressional District, including parts of Washtenaw County.