by: Vern Buchanan
Washington’s addiction to spending has placed our nation on the same perilous road as Greece. In fact, the United States recently joined Greece on the short list of seven nations with debt exceeding total economic output. Our national debt went from $10 trillion in 2008 to $15.6 trillion today and is projected to reach $26 trillion in 10 years.
It seems that Washington never runs out of ways to waste taxpayers’ money in breathtaking fashion. Consider the following:
- It was disclosed last week that a federal agency (the General Services Administration) held an $800,000 five-day conference at a resort in Las Vegas that included a mind reader, a clown and $147,000 in catering fees. The mind reader was paid $3,200. The clown’s fee was not reported.
- The federal Environmental Protection Agency spent $100 million on overseas projects that included studying pig manure in Thailand, reducing pollution in China and improving air quality in Indonesia under the “Breathe Easy Jakarta” program.
- On March 14, the President signed into law another “bridge to nowhere” boondoggle that will cost taxpayers more than $700 million, this time to build a bridge between Minnesota and Wisconsin — even though an existing 8-lane bridge is located minutes away. I was one of 16 Republicans to vote against this irresponsible project, which passed overwhelmingly in the House and Senate.
During my three terms in Congress, I have never hesitated to take on the special interests and the Washington establishment. As a businessman, not a politician, I went to Washington to be the voice of the people and help turn around an out-of-control bureaucracy that was spending us into bankruptcy. The first bill I introduced was a Balanced Budget Amendment to force Congress to spend no more than government collects in revenue. But even this common-sense plan failed because the politicians had become too addicted to spending and too beholden to the special interests.
Any time you challenge the status quo you become the target of attacks — but the fight is worth it. I didn’t go to Washington to make friends — I went to make a difference.
Both Republicans and Democrats contributed to our financial problems over the past decade by consistently spending money we did not have. It will take both parties working together to get us out of this hole.
A new budget for 2013 approved by the U.S. House begins to address the need for fiscal restraint by cutting $5 trillion in spending over the next 10 years. It also calls for a simpler, fairer tax code, and saves and protects Medicare for today’s seniors and future generations. In fact, The Washington Post points out that the House-passed budget grows Medicare spending at the same rate as President Obama’s budget proposal.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate has already declared this budget dead on arrival, which means it will be more than three years since a budget has been passed by Congress. This is the type of partisan gridlock and gamesmanship that must end if we are to restore America’s greatness.
If we don’t change Washington’s reckless spending, it won’t take a mind reader to predict the consequences — the U.S. will end up looking more like Greece and less like the strong and vibrant nation we inherited from our forefathers. And if that happens, it may even be too late to send in the clowns.