2011-08-20 / Opinions

Voting For Budget Control

By Congressman Dan Benishek

Last week, I cast my toughest vote since becoming a member of Congress in January. Following a long national debate on the federal debt limit, a majority in the House passed a bill, and the President signed into law, what many fair-minded folks believed was an imperfect piece of legislation. In my view, the politically safest course for any member of Congress would simply have been to cast a “no” vote. I chose a different path based on what I thought would best promote jobs in northern Michigan. My vote reflected a strong concern of what a possible government default could do to northern Michigan’s already fragile job market.

Prior to this vote, I had supported the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” plan (referred to as “CCB”) — a measure that would cut federal spending, cap future spending, and add a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution — as the ideal way to return this country to a strong fiscal foundation.

I was left to choose to support the Budget Control Act to prevent the possibility of the federal government not meeting its financial obligations. Although the bill does not contain the level of spending reductions I would have liked to see, it does make a significant down payment on America’s growing federal deficit. The bill reduces the federal deficit by $917 billion over the next decade and establishes a mechanism to reduce another $1.2 trillion in savings before the end of the year. Additionally, the bill ensures that a balanced budget amendment is voted on in both the House and the Senate. Moreover, the legislation does not contain any of the jobkilling tax increases…

Americans deserve to be frustrated with the Washington gridlock. I am frustrated, too, but my hope is that the new deficit committee will allow the American people to observe open negotiations, rather than back room, closed door dealmaking. With 14 million Americans unemployed and the federal government borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends, we do not need credit agencies to tell us that America is facing a financial crisis. Difficult decisions lie ahead of us. While the debate over taming the federal budget will continue, I believe it is important that Congress continue to focus on policies that will grow the economy and, most importantly, produce jobs. I do not pretend to be an economic expert, but I am confident that if Congress makes serious reductions in federal spending, shrinks the size of government, and returns confidence to our markets, we can create an environment where northern Michigan’s employers will again start putting “Help Wanted” signs in their windows.

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