"First steps toward fiscal responsibility" by Rep. Ed Royce
Apr 8, 2011 -
The following oped by Rep. Ed Royce appeared in the Orange County Register -- As the clock winds down on the second funding bill for the remainder of the fiscal year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said his party doesn't want more spending cuts.
"We can't go anymore," said Reid, D-Nev.
What has passed so far is $10 billion in cuts, which is less than 1 percent of the federal budget.
Really, is this all they can do?
On the other side of the Capitol, House Republicans passed HR1, a bill to fund the federal government through the rest of the year and cut spending by $100 billion. This bill has been languishing in the Senate since winter – nearly 50 days. Reid and Senate Democrats have failed to match our efforts and produce an alternative. This isn't surprising. Last year, he and his Democratic cohorts were unable to produce a budget, and the Senate didn't pass a single appropriations bill. That is why we are still debating funding for the current fiscal year, which is more than half over.
So as Democrats continue to push for the status quo and refuse to concede just a few billion dollars in this year's funding bill, the House Republicans are taking the next step in significantly cutting the size and scope of the federal government. Leading this effort is Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who introduced this week a budget plan that would cut $6 trillion over the next decade beginning in October (the start of fiscal 2012).
His budget, which would go a long way in addressing our looming debt crisis, was described by The Wall Street Journal as "the most serious attempt to reform government in a generation." I applaud him for this undertaking.
No one on the Democratic side has produced a plan that actually puts our country on a path toward fiscal responsibility, including the president. In fact, President Barack Obama's budget plan never produces a balanced budget. It continues the status quo and does not touch the drivers of our national debt – the unsustainable entitlement programs. The president's own economic advisors say the current policy cannot continue.
Further proof that the tide continues to shift toward addressing our record deficits comes from a coalition of 64 senators (32 from each party) that sent a letter to the president, asking him to begin negotiations on a budget that makes substantial cuts to the budget, including entitlements. Despite this effort, the president remains largely absent.
Along with House Republicans, I will continue pushing significant spending cuts for both this year and years to come because that is the only responsible thing to do. As Chairman Ryan has said, unlike Greece and much of Europe, we still "have time to fix this problem" if we act quickly. We do not have to cut health and retirement security for current or future generations if we get ahead of the problem.
Because we do have a small window, under Ryan's plan, Americans now age 55 and older will not see a change and will stay on the current Medicare program. However, given that the current program is unsustainable, changes need to be made for future generations. If nothing is done, entitlements will consume all federal spending by 2052.
Ryan proposes changing Medicare into a system similar to what federal employees have now. Medicare would put forth a list of plans that compete against each other for your business. Seniors pick the plan of their choosing, then Medicare subsidizes that plan. Through competition, lower costs will prevail. Under his plan, there will be more for the poor, and more for people who get sick.
This year's deficit is projected to reach $1.5 trillion, which means the government will borrow 42 cents of every dollar it spends. So for the opponents of this plan, I would ask: What plan do you support? Will it be big government or free enterprise? If it isn't clear yet, this is the fundamental divide of our time. Pick a side.