Opinion

Cleaning up the mess left by the 111th Congress

David Bossie President, Citizens United

The 112th Congress, which will be sworn in later this week, will have the monumental task of cleaning up the mess made by the Democrat-controlled 111th Congress. First and foremost, it should be the goal of this Congress not to increase the exploding national debt. The 111th Congress added a seemingly impossible $3.22 trillion to the national debt in just two years, for a grand total of nearly $13.9 trillion and counting. Every American man, woman and child now owes $44,886.57 each toward the national debt. America cannot sustain itself on this massive borrowing and trillion-dollar deficit spending.

The newly elected Republican majority in the House and the narrowed Republican minority in the Senate have to address this fiscal crisis head-on in the 112th Congress. First, they have to take care of the unfinished business of funding the government for Fiscal Year 2011. Substantial cuts need to be made and hard choices must be dealt with in a responsible manner. As Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen has said, “The most significant threat to our national security is our debt.” Not terrorism, not nuclear weapons, not rogue nations, but our national debt. Unfortunately, President Barack Obama has only responded to this dire issue with a toothless commission and press releases…not real action. When President Obama releases his budget for Fiscal Year 2012 in the next month, a clearer picture will unfold of his intentions. Is President Obama ready to deal with reality?

The biggest debt creators by far are the entitlement programs, like Social Security and Medicare, which are known as the third rail of politics. Neither Republicans nor Democrats want to touch these programs for fear of a voter revolt. In the past it might have been true that voters would vote out politicians who cut entitlements, but with House Republicans gaining 63 seats and Senate Republicans gaining six seats in the midterm elections, the message was clear to Washington: get your fiscal house in order. Voters will respect politicians more if they tell the truth about our dire financial situation.

Repealing “Obamacare” must be done by House Republicans. The issue is how. Congress spent a better part of a year and a half debating the issue of the government takeover of health care. Republicans in the House do not need to go through that spectacle again with the unemployment rate at nearly 10 percent, and millions of Americans needing jobs and mature economic stewardship. House Republicans should waste little time in holding a vote to repeal the flawed legislation. The process should take two weeks at most. Republicans in the House would be wise not to be dragged into a protracted debate again on health care. It will play right into the hands of President Obama in his quest to regain the upper hand on the economy.

The 112th Congress will have an opportunity to right the many wrongs that occurred in the last Congress, particularly in the area of spending. Republican leaders in both houses must have a clear and concise message and hold true to their conservative fiscal values. It will not be an easy task, and the temptation to spend like drunken sailors will be there. But the voters sent a clear message last November. Now they want results.

David N. Bossie is the president of Citizens United and Citizens United Productions, and the executive producer of “America at Risk.”