Feature:Opinion

Spending limit amendment stops the cycle of broken promises

Photo of Rep. Mike Pence
Rep. Mike Pence
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      Rep. Mike Pence

      Mike Pence was born in Columbus, Indiana, graduated from Hanover College in 1981 and earned his J.D. from Indiana University School of Law in 1986.

      Following graduation from law school, Pence ran for Congress in 1988 and 1990. In 1991, he was named president of a conservative state think tank based in Fort Wayne, Indiana known as the Indiana Policy Review Foundation.

      Pence began his career in radio broadcasting in 1992 and two years later, Network Indiana syndicated his show throughout the state of Indiana. "The Mike Pence Show" aired Monday through Friday on 18 stations. He also hosted a Sunday morning political television show in Indianapolis from 1995-1999.

      Pence was first elected to Congress in 2000 and was most recently elected to a fifth term in November of 2008. He also was elected unanimously by House Republicans to serve as House Republican Conference Chairman in November 2008. In his role as Conference Chairman, he helps to develop and disseminate the message of the Republican Conference and to promote its Members.

      Congressman Pence describes himself as "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order."

      Congressman Pence and his wife Karen have three children and reside in Columbus, Indiana. The Pence family lives in Arlington, Virginia, while Congress is in session.

      Committees

      As part of his duties in Congress, Congressman Pence has served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee since 2003. He has previously served on the Judiciary, Agriculture and Small Business committees, and as Ranking Member on the Select Committee to Investigate the Voting Irregularities of August 2, 2007.

      Congressman Pence continues to seek to uphold the interests of Indiana and all Americans in his service on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He has traveled to visit troops serving in Iraq every year we've been at war, from 2003 - 2008. He has also led official government delegations to Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey, and Pakistan, and has visited with government leaders and military personnel in over a dozen countries. Congressman Pence is a voice for American security and sovereignty on the Foreign Affairs Committee, advocating for strong alliances with our allies, and firm resolve against our adversaries. He has condemned the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, the human rights abuses of Venezuela and China, and unwarranted aggression against our ally Israel. A strong supporter of Israel, Congressman Pence has visited Israel in 2004 and 2008, and has authored amendments to protect Israel's right to build a security fence in disputed territories as well as to cut off American funding of organizations supporting Palestinian terrorist organizations.

      As Co-Chair of the Congressional Task Force Against Anti-Semitism, he works to condemn all forms of anti-Semitism around the world. He served as Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia during the 110th Congress.

      Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Congressman Pence was appointed to the Judiciary Committee. In his time on the Judiciary Committee, Pence participated in drafting the Patriot Act and legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security. During the 109th Congress, Pence developed a comprehensive immigration solution involving a no-amnesty guest worker proposal.

      As a member of the Agriculture Committee, Congressman Pence participated in drafting the 2002 Farm Bill. He worked closely with Senator Richard Lugar to advance the vision of Freedom to Farm.

      Legislation

      During the 108th Congress (2003-2004), Congressman Pence authored the Farming Flexibility Act (or "Farm Flex"), which would give American farmers freedom to diversify their crops without fear of excessive penalties. He also authored the Truth in Domain Names Act, which President Bush signed into law as part of historic child protection legislation. The law punishes those who use misleading domain names to attract children to sexually explicit Internet sites and it has already been employed by federal prosecutors to make the Internet a safer place for children.

      In the 109th Congress (2005-2006), Congressman Pence led efforts to pass additional child protection legislation, as well as two bipartisan measures to advance the principles of freedom of the press and American politics. He authored the Child Pornography Prevention Act, which was incorporated into the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act and signed into law by President Bush in 2006. This legislation strengthened current law to further protect our children from exploitation and predation. Congressman Pence also authored federal media shield legislation called the Free Flow of Information Act, which would establish statutory protections for reporters under federal law. In addition, Pence authored the 527 Fairness Act to strengthen political parties and free speech rights by bringing changes to campaign finance law.

      During the 110th Congress (2007-2008), Congressman Pence introduced the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act. This bill would prohibit any federal funds from being awarded to family planning organizations that provide abortions. He also authored the Broadcaster Freedom Act, which would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from reinstating the so-called Fairness Doctrine. The Fairness Doctrine infringed on broadcasters' First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and religious expression, but some in Congress have proposed bringing it back. The Broadcaster Freedom Act will prevent this archaic regulation from threatening true freedom and fairness on our broadcast airwaves. In addition, Pence praised the Agriculture Committee for including a pilot program of his Farming Flexibility Act (Farm Flex) in the 2008 Farm Bill. Farm Flex allows fruit and vegetable production for processing on unsubsidized program acres without jeopardizing the farm's base acreage (acres eligible for enrollment in future government farm programs).

      In the 111th Congress (2009-2010), Congressman Pence continues to drive a number of legislative initiatives including the Broadcaster Freedom Act, Free Flow of Information Act, Farming Flexibility Act and Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act. He has also introduced the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, legislation that seeks to highlight and promote freedom of the press worldwide.

      Conservative Leader

      During the 109th Congress, Congressman Pence served as Chairman of the House Republican Study Committee. The Republican Study Committee is the largest caucus in the House of Representatives; membership grew to 110 House Republicans under his leadership, and has been the leading voice for advancing conservative social and economic issues in Congress since the mid-1980s.

      Congressman Pence has emerged as a national spokesman for conservative principles. In March of 2005, The Washington Post described Pence as "A New Face on Conservatism" observing, "he delivered conservative opinions with the even tones and polite demeanor of his Midwest upbringing." In November 2005, Business Week described Pence as a "new power broker" and syndicated columnist George Will singled out Pence and Governor Mitch Daniels' brand of conservatism as the "wave of the future." Peggy Noonan has complimented Pence on his ability to maintain an upbeat attitude even in a partisan environment, quoting him as saying "I'm a conservative, but I'm not in a bad mood about it." An April 2006 profile in U.S. News and World Report said Pence "has emerged as a powerful force, moving Congress further to the right."

      Pence's role as a conservative leader has been profiled in The Chicago Tribune, Business Week, the Weekly Standard, U.S. News and World Report and The New York Times. He appears regularly on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. Pence also appears weekly on Indiana's most prominent talk radio stations.

      Awards

      Congressman Pence has received many national and local awards during his time in Congress.

      In November of 2007, Congressman Pence was named one of the top 20 most influential conservatives in America, coming in at nineteen according to the London Daily Telegraph.

      On Martin Luther King Day in January 2007, he was honored with the Duerson Award during a ceremony in Muncie. The award is named for former Chicago Bear and Muncie native Dave Duerson's parents and is given for extraordinary commitment to the community.

      The ACU honored Congressman Pence in 2006 with the Courage Under Fire Award, which recognizes those who have stood for principle when doing so puts them at risk physically, politically or economically. Past recipients include Charlton Heston, Wayne LaPierre, and Ambassador John Bolton.

      In 2005, Congressman Pence was named "Man of the Year" by the leading conservative publication Human Events for his leadership on behalf of fiscal discipline. Previous honorees include President Ronald Reagan and the late Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.

      He was also awarded the Friend of the Family Award by the Indiana Family Institute, and the Distinguished Christian Statesmanship Award by the Center for Christian Statesmanship. In addition, he was recognized by the Inland Press Association for his work in advocating for the Freedom of Information Act, or federal media shield law.

      Congressman Pence has repeatedly received the "True Blue Award" from the Family Research Council for his commitment to the family and sanctity of human life and the "Tax Payers' Friend" award from the National Taxpayers' Union for his commitment to advocating for responsible tax and spending policies.

A crisis is quickly approaching that will undermine the strength of our country and rob our children of their future prosperity. When it comes to getting our nation’s fiscal house in order we are running out of options and the time to act is now.

Over the last five years, annual spending by the federal government increased from roughly $2.5 trillion to over $3.5 trillion. This year the government is expected to spend a record $1.6 trillion more than it will collect in revenue and public debt will exceed the value of the entire economy by 2023. The rising costs of health care and the entitlements promised to the retiring Baby Boomer generation are leading causes of this national emergency. But there are other forces at work as well.

After a decade of runaway federal spending, the appetite in Washington to spend without regard to the taxpayer is still strong. Lawmakers from both political parties have broken their promises for fiscal responsibility and therefore have broken all historical records for deficits and debt. Our children will soon pay the price.

It is time to fundamentally change the way Washington spends taxpayer money and establish constitutional safeguards that will force the federal government to live within reasonable means. That is why I am proud to join Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) in proposing the Spending Limit Amendment.

The proposed constitutional amendment would limit federal spending to one-fifth of the national economy. This reflects the historical standard set since the defeat of global totalitarianism during World War II. It ensures that the government can meet the growing demands of the country but in a responsible way. Federal spending can exceed this level only by declaring war or by a two-thirds vote in Congress.

This year, the economy is projected to reach $14.6 trillion. That means if the spending limit amendment were the law of the land, the federal government would receive – at most – $2.9 trillion to meet the basic needs of the American people. The burden of proof falls on those who believe the government deserves more than $1 out of every $5 of an economy built on the strength and sacrifice of American workers and businesses.

No doubt, some will try to make such an argument. Many in power believe government spending is the only sure foundation for economic growth. The philosophy of John Maynard Keynes is alive and well in Washington. But it’s clear that government spending is not “picking up the slack,” it is holding back any economic recovery we hope to achieve.

An economic study found that a one percent increase in government spending, as a share of the economy, increased unemployment by nearly four-tenths of one percent. That may not sound like much, but with unemployment hovering around 10 percent the impact will be felt by thousands of workers and their families.

If we fail to act, the quality of life for countless Americans will be diminished. We will see the effects on the streets of our communities and in the lives of our families and friends. Europe serves as a cautionary tale that we do not wish to welcome to our shores. Recent events in Greece are a startling reminder of the economic turmoil that can hit a nation when deficits and debt spiral out of control.

Runaway federal spending threatens not only our economic security but our national security as well. This past February, the Washington Times reported that the Chinese military had stepped up pressure on the United States because of our relationship with the people of Taiwan. The source of Chinese leverage was the nearly $800 billion in American debt they own. We should never be forced to sacrifice our moral responsibilities out of economic necessity.