Opinion

Washington needs some common ‘cents’

Rep. Sam Johnson Congressman, Texas 3rd District

When Texas families find themselves financially over their heads, they probably don’t think that spending more money will get them out of the red. Of course not. That defies common sense. All across this country, Americans have been making tough choices as they get their financial houses in order. For some, this means holding off on buying that new appliance or eating at home more often instead of going out to dinner. Meanwhile, the Democrats in Washington have loosened their belts and asked for dessert!

In less than two years, the Democrats have managed to hammer through a $787 billion stimulus plan, a $447 billion so-called emergency spending bill and the $700 billion Wall Street rescue. Thanks to the unbridled spending, Democrats in Congress had to raise the debt limit to a record $14.3 trillion.

What do we as a country have to show for it? Unemployment hovers near 10 percent. A record 16.1 million Americans want good jobs but can’t find them. Billions of stimulus dollars have gone to waste in phantom congressional districts. Small businesses have shown reluctance to hire new employees fearing the threat of higher taxes and regulations. Make no mistake—the American taxpayers, their children, and their grandchildren are being saddled with unprecedented debt controlled by the likes of China. Americans want, need and deserve so much better than this. They deserve economic prosperity, financial accountability, and fiscal responsibility—not unchecked, out-of-control spending that bankrupts our country.

The only way to make sure that Washington puts an end to its spending spree once and for all is to pass a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.

It’s time for President Obama and the Democrats in Congress to put an end to their free-for-all spending policies. Recent proposals such as the president’s spending freeze and the Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform are no more than political smoke and mirrors. In Texas, we call that all hat and no cattle. The president’s “spending freeze” really just locks into place the president’s record spending while the commission likely will serve to give President Obama the excuse he needs to raise taxes on hard-working Americans already feeling pinched.

Since December, the House has passed 23 resolutions honoring individuals, entities or causes, seven resolutions congratulating sports figures or teams and five bills naming post offices. They have passed zero bills to reduce spending, pay down the debt, cut the deficit or shrink the federal workforce. It is no wonder that the American people are scratching their heads and wondering what went wrong in Washington.

Even the voters in Massachusetts showed their disgust with the out-of-control spending and declared that enough is enough at the ballot box. It is clear that the Democrats in Congress have no intention to stop spending beyond their means. Therefore, a balanced-budget amendment becomes even more critical.

The resolution that I support, H. J.Res. 1, would direct the president to propose a balanced budget annually and require a majority vote to increase taxes. Today, 49 states have balanced-budget requirements, most of which are written into their constitutions.

The American people have to watch what they buy and keep their spending in check. The same should be true for our government. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, it’s time that Congress plays by the same rules that American families have to and balance the budget. A bold and bright future depends on it.

Rep. Johnson, an ardent fiscal conservative, represents the Third District of Texas.