Obama Budget: A Step in the Wrong Direction
Congress passes hundreds of bills each year, with many of those bills receiving broad, bipartisan support. Most of these bills pass without much fanfare and aren’t reported on by the media. What Americans do notice, however, are the bills to deal with bigger issues - issues like immigration reform, Second Amendment rights or the budget.
The federal government has a very unique way to deal with these types issues. In a divided government, when the House and the Senate are governed by different parties, each body is asked to pass its own version of a particular bill. Once both bodies have approved their own bills, each designates members to participate in a conference committee to work out the differences and come to a compromised agreement. This is called “regular order;” it’s how the work gets done in Washington.
Regular order has been noticeably missing in Washington for the better part of four years. But due to the “No Budget, No Pay Act” that I supported, this year marks the first time since 2009 that the House, the Senate and the President have all proposed and passed a budget. While this may not seem like a big deal, it signals a return to regular order. And while there is reason to be hopeful that we’ve returned to regular order, each of the budget proposals represent very different visions for America, so significant hurdles remain.
On the one hand, you have the budget approved by the House which is the only budget framework proposed that actually balances. Balancing our budget means certainty for families, economic growth and an environment that fosters job creation. It also allows us to attack our national debt which currently stands at more than $50,000 for every man, woman and child in America. This isn’t just wrong; it’s immoral.
The House budget reduces deficits by $4.6 trillion over the next 10 years without threatening economic growth through massive tax increases. Additionally, the budget preserves Medicare for those at or near retirement, while protecting it for future generations.
On the other hand, you have the budget approved by the Senate. This version of the budget increases spending, gives the IRS more taxes to collect and never actually balances. It only reduces the deficit by $700 billion while raising taxes by $1.5 trillion.
And finally, the missing piece to the “regular order” puzzle is the budget proposed by the Obama Administration. This budget represents priorities that are, quite frankly, out of touch and just an extension of what we’ve seen from this administration over the last four years - more spending and more debt. This proposal is bad for taxpayers, bad for jobs, bad for the economy and bad for the private sector.
Like the Senate’s budget, President Obama’s budget never balances. According to a recent analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, the president’s proposed budget would increase taxes by $974 billion which would impact every single American from all income groups over the next 10 years while increasing the debt held by the public to more than $18 trillion. In fact, the president’s own pledge to not raise taxes on those making less than $200,000 has been violated by his budget proposal.
One tax increase in particular would be devastating to our nation’s agriculture sector. Despite being resolved as a part of the fiscal cliff deal before I came to Congress, President Obama is calling for an increase in the “Death Tax.” Currently, the tax is 40 percent with an exemption of $5 million. Yet the president proposes to increase that even higher, 45 percent with an exemption of just $3.5 million. An increase of this magnitude means that farmland owned by the same family for generations will be put in jeopardy, spelling the end for many family-owned farms across the country.
One of the greatest drivers of spending and debt in this country is health care, and one of the most important social safety nets our government provides is Medicare. Yet the Medicare system continues to careen towards insolvency due to inaction by Washington, and the President’s proposed budget does little to stop that. Simply offering minor tweaks, as the president has done, will not preserve and protect the system that so many Americans depend on.
The president’s proposal does contain different “tax cuts” and “tax breaks” but many of these ideas have been tried in the past and simply do not work. Take, for example, the $33 billion line item for “tax relief to create jobs and jumpstart growth.” The biggest tax cut from this line item is in a form of a tax credit for businesses that hire workers and increase wages. This is similar to a credit tried by the president in 2010 that failed to create jobs because our business community needs long-term certainty and tax relief to plan and invest for the future, not just one-time, short-term tax gimmicks.
We have seen the negative impact of tax increases imposed on working families in Illinois, so the president’s budget plan relying on more taxes, more spending and the continuation of more failed policies is a disappointment; but at least we know the direction he wishes to take the country.
Still, I am pleased that Congress has finally returned to regular order. I hope to be a part of the process to put together a responsible long-term spending plan for our country that reduces debt, creates jobs and restores certainty and confidence in the federal government’s ability to make tough decisions to move our country forward.
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, a Republican, represents the 13th District of Illinois.