Honest Budget Act:
Americans are disappointed with the dysfunction in Washington—the people see politicians talking about budget savings and future spending cuts that never seem to materialize. Their frustration is justified, and many Members of Congress, including myself, share it.
My freshman class came to Washington to cut wasteful spending and bring more transparency and accountability to the legislative process. Over the past year, we have consistently pushed for deeper spending cuts, less regulation, and a harder line against efforts to raise taxes and expand government power. But during a year of budget battles, we have discovered that the nuances of the budget process can be exploited to hide federal spending.
Congress, as an institution, is a sick patient.
My colleagues and I have learned that the House and Senate are plagued by budget loopholes and gimmicks that are deeply engrained in the rules of the two chambers. Exploiting those gimmicks is widely accepted and has become commonplace in both parties.
Honesty, accountability, and transparency are the cure—and implementing legislation to rid the budget process of gimmicks is one way to deliver that medicine.
In a rare bi-cameral event this week, more than 25 Senate and House colleagues stood in support as Sen. Jeff Sessions and I announced the introduction of my bill, the Honest Budget Act of 2012.
My legislation would put an end to the procedural trickery that Washington too often uses to hide federal spending and run up the debt. It is companion legislation to a bill introduced last year by Senator Sessions in the Senate. The legislation takes his commonsense approach to the problem and extends it to the House of Representatives, where revenue and spending bills are first considered.
The Honest Budget Act would give rank-and-file House members greater authority to challenge the nine most commonly used budget gimmicks found in the budget and appropriations process. Experts estimate that these gimmicks have accounted for more than $420 billion in new spending since 2005—including $73 billion last year.
The legislation is a direct response to the problems that my freshmen colleagues and I have witnessed over the last year. It is a first step toward holding the Congress and the President accountable through an honest and transparent budget process.
As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest.” The American people deserve a government that shoots straight, and they are looking to Congress for a budget that is reliable, genuine, and accountable. The Honest Budget Act would help Congress meet those expectations.
Keystone XL Pipeline: On the House floor this week, I delivered a speech expressing my disappointment over the President’s recent decision to block the Keystone XL Pipeline by rejecting an application to build and operate the oil pipeline across the U.S.-Canadian border. Click to watch The Keystone Pipeline represents an opportunity to increase supply of much-needed natural resources in our country. If built, it would have the capacity to deliver up to 900,000 barrels of crude oil per day over 1,700 miles of pipeline. In terms of job growth, tens of thousands American jobs would be created over the life of the project.America’s energy policy is vitally important to our national security and our economic security. Oil, for example, accounts for more than a third of total U.S. energy consumed, with 94 percent of all transportation in the U.S. powered by petroleum products. We need to implement ways to increase domestic energy production here at home. Therefore, I support an “all of the above” approach to energy, which includes opening up new areas for American energy exploration, transitioning to renewable and alternative energy, and using more clean and reliable nuclear power. The President made a major decision to deny the Keystone Pipeline, and every American should be aware of the consequences.I consider his choice a grave mistake, and I am pleased that Congress is now considering ways to allow construction of the Keystone Pipeline through legislation. The Impact of Medicaid Expansion: This week, I participated in an Education and the Workforce Committee hearing to discuss various federal policies that affect the states. During the hearing, I addressed the negative impact Medicaid expansion would have on state government. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that, as a result of President Obama’s health care reform law, Medicaid will expand to cover an additional 25.6 million enrollees in the next decade, increasing the cost on states by more than $118 billion through 2023. Medicaid is jointly funded by state and federal government, therefore, the expansion would place a burden not just on the federal government, but on the states as well. As Medicaid is already significantly underfunded, many states are unsure they can devote even more resources to cover this expansion. The Medicaid provision is just one of many included in Obama’s health care law, which would create more government while increasing taxes—directly and indirectly—on Americans. I was sent to Congress to root-out unnecessary federal spending and shrink the size of government. One of the first actions I took after being elected to Congress was vote to repeal the President’s health care law. It is important to find ways to encourage affordable health care for citizens without placing additional burdens on state budgets. I look forward to implementing market-based reforms that actually lower cost, increase access, and maintain high quality of care.
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