The congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, called the Supercommittee, announced today that it has failed to meet its statutory duty to recommend deficit reduction to Congress. But the overspending problem is still here. Congress does not get to quit on the American people or stall for more time. Congress must still act to get federal spending under control, in a thoughtful, intelligent manner that meets the needs of the American people.
Mindless across-the-board cuts to government spending — especially cuts that gut the nation’s defenses when America already faces a military readiness crisis — is not the way to proceed. Nor is a job-killing tax hike that grows the government instead of the economy.
Instead, Congress needs to rest a tight federal budget on three pillars: (1) drive down federal spending, including fixing entitlement programs, toward a balanced budget, (2) maintain our ability to protect America, and (3) do so without raising taxes. It can be done. The Heritage Foundation showed how with Saving the American Dream: The Heritage Plan to Fix the Debt, Cut Spending, and Restore Prosperity.
The burden of leadership rests squarely on five people: President Barack Obama (D-IL), Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Over the years, Congress has tried one procedural gimmick after another — the Supercommittee is only the latest gimmick to fail — to try to avoid the hard votes necessary to cut spending. There is no more time for gimmicks.
The Leadership and other Members of Congress must explain to the American people the hard, cold facts about the federal government’s overspending. America is more than $15 trillion in debt and government spending accounts for nearly one-fourth of what our economy produces every year, and both numbers are getting worse. America needs less debt, less spending, and less government.
The role of Members of Congress is not to perpetuate themselves in office — their role is to support and defend the Constitution and do what the American people need done. The Leadership must have the Members of Congress take the hard votes. Either, as we hope, Congress will do the right thing — cut spending, maintain our defense, and without raising taxes — or it will fail to do so, and the American voters will be able to see clearly who voted for the right thing and who did not. And then the American people can cast their votes accordingly in the next election.
Congress cannot solve the overspending problem by gutting defense with the automatic cuts called “sequestration,” by increasing taxes on the American people, or by stalling for time. Congress can solve the problem only by taking promptly those hard votes to cut spending, including fixing entitlement programs, and fully fund defense. Take the hard votes. Now.