By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, March 16, US Representative Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) voted to pass the Republican budget out of the House Budget Committee, where he is a member, but says that he will not support it on the floor of the House unless changes are made.
Congressman Palmer released a written statement after the House Budget Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget. Rep. Palmer said, “My vote for the budget in the Committee today should not surprise anyone. I kept my word to the Chairman that if I were placed on the Committee, I would support moving the process forward for full House consideration.”
Rep. Palmer said, “There are some provisions in this budget we can be proud of. Implementing work requirements for able-bodied individuals receiving food stamps and Medicaid is a significant reform for out of control programs. Prohibiting the EPA from implementing the Clean Power Plan, ozone standards, and Waters of the US are important steps in reigning in the significant regulatory overreach of the agency.”
The conservative Alabama Congressman said, “Unfortunately, the budget adheres to spending levels that I opposed last year, because they were too high. I will not support a budget at the current levels on the House floor. Twenty-two government agencies made close to $125 billion in improper payments in 2014 and we failed to collect at least $380 billion in taxes owed the same year. This alone tells us that spending increases are not necessary. The process has been moved forward, but significant changes are required before I can support this budget or the process any further. The facts are plain and simple: it’s time we get our fiscal house in order.”
According to US Debt Clock.org, the federal government now owes $19,152 billion. The current annual budget deficit is $489 billion. Medicare and Medicaid are the most expensive federal programs at $1,026 billion per year. That is followed by Social Security $895 billion a year; defense at $585 billion; various income security programs totaling $306 billion, federal pensions at $262 billion, and interest on the debt at $238 billion a year.
The Heritage Foundation said in a statement, “The 114th Congress has an opportunity and obligation to stop Washington’s taxpayer-financed spending spree. Over the past 20 years, spending has grown 63 percent faster than inflation. Unless leaders emerge with the courage to change the nation’s course for the better, the future looks like more of the same as total annual spending will grow from $3.5 trillion in 2014 to $5.8 trillion in 2024.1. Congress is financing the profligate spending by increasing taxes and incurring stunning amounts of debt. In 2014, Congress borrowed 14 cents of every dollar it spent, totaling a half a trillion dollars. Even more alarming, the country just surpassed $18 trillion in cumulative national debt. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the country is projected to borrow another $9.6 trillion over the next 10 years.”
The Heritage Foundation wrote, “In its long-term projections, the CBO warns that failure to get spending and debt under control include: A Slower Economy,” and a National Security Risk by constraining defense spending in times of international crises. The CBO warned also that policymakers’ ability “to respond to unexpected challenges, such as economic downturns or financial crises” is far more limited.
Congress remains widely divided on this, with some conservatives favoring raising the retirement age, limiting benefits for illegal immigrants, and reforming entitlements; while Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) is promising expanding Medicare to cover everyone, free college tuition, more immigration, higher taxes, and expanding Social Security benefits.
Congressman Gary Palmer represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District.