Many of the freshmen serving in the 112th Congress were elected last November riding a wave of Tea Party activism, fueled in part by frustration over out-of-control government spending.
This week they’ll have an opportunity to show the American people they’re living up to their promises as the House of Representatives debates a continuing resolution to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year. We visited Capitol Hill this week to chat with some of them about why government spending must be cut now.
Lawmakers are considering cuts upwards of $100 billion in cuts — and that’s just to start. The House will vote on hundreds of amendments, and floor debate will last until late in the night. The conservative Republican Study Committee, for example, will offer an additional $20 billion in cuts on top of what’s already proposed.
Congressmen will no doubt face difficult decisions as they engage in this debate, just as House GOP leaders encountered external and internal pressure as they crafted their initial plan last week.
But whatever Congress decides, the national debt will remain — for the immediate present, at least — a staggering $14 trillion. No facile cuts will erase a decade of steady growth in the debt as a percentage of GDP or the particularly disastrous past two years, in which total discretionary spending soared from $1.2 trillion to $1.4 trillion and mandatory spending jumped from $2.1 trillion to $2.2 trillion.
But they have to start somewhere. As Rep. Allen West (R-FL) told us, “It takes five miles to turn an aircraft carrier. If we don’t start now, we will never get this ship that is the U.S.S. America righted.”