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Front Page » June 24, 2003 » Opinion » The Day Fiscal Responsibility Died
Published 4,148 days ago

The Day Fiscal Responsibility Died


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By CONGRESSMAN JIM MATHESON

During this session with only the insomniacs watching on C-Span, the U.S. House of Representatives struck a fatal blow against fiscal responsibility. By a margin of five votes, the House passed a budget resolution that includes the largest, long-term structural tax increase in history. That vote approved a budget with the biggest one-year deficit in our history, and no long-term plan to stop adding more debt on the backs of every American. That is additional debt for which every man, woman and child in America will pay taxes every year, just so that our government can pay the interest on that debt. Keep in mind that the "debt tax" is the only tax that cannot be repealed.

Today, our national debt is more than $6.4 trillion. Your share, my share, my 73-year-old mother's share and my 4-year-old son's share of that debt is over $22,000 each. The interest we pay on the debt is roughly a billion dollars a day. Eighteen cents of every federal income tax dollar that you pay goes to interest. And that number (The Debt Tax) will increase thanks to the budget Congress just passed.

Worse, the House of Representatives abandoned any pretext of fiscal responsibility at a time when young men and women were fighting and dying for the freedom of Iraqis and a peaceful future for the world. When the troops return, they'll get a bill from Congress for the war they fought and won. So will their children-even those who lost a parent in the conflict.

It's clear that there are economic bumps in the road, and sometimes a budget will be out of balance. In the private sector, a business may have a bad year or two where it loses money. But any prudent business would work on a plan to return to profitability.Where is the plan in Washington to change the course from perpetual yearly deficits? Let's set aside any blame game about how we got into the current situation and take action to restore fiscal responsibility to our federal budget. The first step when you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging.

Yes, the economy needs an economic boost. Let's pass real economic stimulus, something short-term and immediate, to jump-start the economy, without mortgaging our children's future.

We all would like to pay less in taxes. I have supported significant tax cuts. As Congress evaluates tax cuts, it should also consider impacts on the budget. I regret to say that while many in Congress advocate for a wide range of tax cuts, few are willing to demonstrate fiscal responsibility by also advocating for corresponding spending cuts so that we can have a balanced budget.

We can't pretend that long term continued deficits don't matter. We can't call ourselves fiscal conservatives and then grow the debt to $11 trillion over the next 10 years. Alan Greenspan said, "There's no question that as deficits go up, contrary to what some have said, it does affect long-term interest rates. It does have a negative impact on the economy."

The Committee for Economic Development, a blue-ribbon organization of corporate CEOs and civic leaders in urging Washington to take the longer view in terms of economic prosperity said, "the budget deficits it (the President's plan) would create would be akin to 'arsenic poisoning' for the economy."

Honesty, honor, fiscal discipline. The U.S. House of Representatives used the cover of darkness and a lot of self-denial to defeat those principles in passing the fiscal year 2004 budget resolution.


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