Last week was very bad for those of us who consider the federal deficit the greatest threat to our national security.
Last Wednesday night, the Republican-controlled Congress sent President Obama a stopgap spending measure extending current spending levels until early December.
Establishment Republicans once again partnered with Democrats to ignore our fiscal crisis, rather than join conservatives determined to restore fiscal sanity. Both parties have proven they have no intention of balancing our budget or slowing the growth of our crushing debt.
A year ago, our new Republican leadership promised to complete the regular appropriations process. That meant passing a Budget Resolution and the 12 appropriation bills that fulfill the duty of Congress to take good care of spending taxpayer dollars. Instead, they never held a vote on the budget. The House passed five of 12 spending bills, the Senate just three.
The result was a manufactured crisis. Rather than do our job, a passive House waited for Sens. Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid to strike a deal.
The broken promise leaves me both saddened and angry. I’m saddened because we had made progress in the last five years, trimming annual deficits by nearly 70 percent, from $1.4 trillion to $439 billion. The positive trajectory was reversed this year, with the deficit projected to reach $590 billion.
According to the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office, we’re in for a decade of anemic economic growth and the return of trillion-dollar annual deficits. In 2012, CBO projected growth of 3 percent over a decade. That figure has been scaled back to 2 percent, meaning continued pain for ordinary Americans.
By 2024, we’ll be spending $1 trillion more than we have, borrowing to make up the difference and pushing our $19 trillion debt to $30 trillion in 2026.
I’m angry because we weren’t permitted to do our work. Rather than complete our most basic job – passing those spending bills – leadership sent us out on a seven-week summer recess. Congress should have stayed to meet its responsibilities, but now we’re taking another extended break.
We appear headed for more of the same when we return in December for a lame-duck session, where the unholy alliance will continue to blow through the limits in the 2011 Budget Control Act to increase both military and domestic spending. If we don’t mend our ways, our legacy to our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be economic ruin.
I intend to keep the promises I made when I first came to Congress in 2011. I will continue to oppose bad deals and reckless spending and urge my leadership to do the same.