Budgets identify priorities. Whether they are for an individual, a family, a business, or a government, a budget is a choice to spend money on certain things and not on others. Once a budget is done, its usefulness is that it ensures we have enough money for the things we really need and that we have not spent money on frivolous items.
Congress has demonstrated a total failure to choose priorities.
Every family in America understands what it means to balance a budget. They know they must prioritize the vital expenses first and foremost. It comes naturally because the consequences of exceeding their budget are meaningful and swift.
That’s why most of us are bewildered by the fiscal condition of the United States government. We are trillions in debt and have been for quite some time.
Congress has demonstrated a total failure to choose priorities. Instead, Congress has chosen to tax and borrow to spend more and more on nearly every proposed expenditure. We have reached a fiscal crisis where this behavior is no longer tolerable.
Until recently, Republican leadership had been pursuing a budget that continues this pattern. This year’s House Republican budget proposal was $50 billion higher than the equivalent proposal last year.
But perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel. For now, that proposal was soundly rejected and defeated by certain conservatives, especially Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., and Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., who opposed the budget when it came through the Budget Committee.
This action paved the way for a cascade of Republicans to signal that they could not support this year’s proposal for its failure to choose priorities and limit federal spending. Now, according to Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., consideration of this proposal is indefinitely delayed.
That delay gives Republicans a chance to get it right this year. Republican leadership should work with conservatives, like Brat and Stutzman, to construct a more responsible budget—one that spends less, taxes less, and identifies conservative priorities.
The Heritage Foundation has produced such a document. The “Blueprint for Balance” properly identifies and funds priorities like national security.
The Heritage “Blueprint for Balance” also identifies and cuts unnecessary expenditures like the EPA’s war on coal, the Department of Energy’s wasteful loan programs, egregious agricultural subsidies, the funding of abortion through Planned Parenthood, and many others.
Ultimately, this budget spends and taxes far less than the rejected Republican proposal and would balance the federal budget in 7 years.
Another budget, proposed by the Republican Study Committee, is similarly responsible. It proposes almost 200 specific spending cuts and brings the budget into balance by 2024.
As they did at the beginning of this process, Republican leaders now have a choice. They can prioritize vital interests and discard wasteful spending, as do the Republican Study Committee budget and the Blueprint for Balance.
Or they can continue to spend at the maximum levels, cooperate with the Democrats, and exacerbate the fiscal crisis. The sudden halt in the budget process is a good sign, but it’s merely a crossroads. Now they have to choose the correct path.