September 7, 2012
Votes are scheduled in the House next week and at this writing, itís not clear just what legislation will be brought to the floor for consideration. There are certainly many bills to choose from, starting with the Fiscal Year 2013 appropriations. I donít have high hopes though, that Congress will complete work on appropriations before the current fiscal year ends on September 30th. Instead, weíll see a continuing resolution to keep the government running, probably until well into the New Year.
This may seem like bad news, and on some levels, it is. After all, one of the primary responsibilities of Congress is to pass legislation funding the government from year to year. But this year, when too many Members on the other side of the aisle simply refuse to compromise on anything, delayed action may help lessen devastating results for many programs.
The Bush tax cuts are expiring at the end of this year, and they too will require attention in the months ahead. Sequestration is also looming, and some Members have been talking about how to delay those cuts, which will come every year for ten years if an alternative approach is not agreed upon.
These are just a few of the items that Congress has on its plate in the last four months of the year. Itís hard to predict what Congress will do, what the President will agree to support and how the results on November 6th will impact all of this, so I can only share with you my thoughts on these issues.
The only way to truly address the federal deficit is through a combination of spending reductions and revenue increases. That is why I do not support extending the Bush tax cuts for everyone. I recognize that many families are still struggling economically, and I think there is plenty of room for compromise when it comes to extending the tax cuts. Some have proposed extending the tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 and letting them expire for the highest earners. Others have proposed different ceilings. The point is that Democrats and Republicans should be able to come to the table and work out a compromise. Will it be acceptable to everyone? No, but thatís the nature of a compromise, and I think a willingness to compromise on occasion is required to be an effective legislator.
Itís important to note that Speaker Boehner and his House Republican colleagues have already stated that they have no plans to offset the cost of extending these tax cuts. That means a full extension will add trillions of dollars to the deficit.
Americans are already going to see substantial spending reductions because of sequestration. By way of reminder, the Budget Control Act (which passed in August of 2011) created the Super Committee and the prospect of sequestration. That Committee was tasked with coming up with a plan to reduce the federal deficit. If Committee members couldnít agree on a way forward, automatic cuts would go into effect for most federal spending every year for ten years. As we know now, the Committee could not reach agreement. You may recall that I voted against the Budget Control Act (BCA), which already cut more than $1 trillion in spending. I did not think that the path outlined in the BCA was balanced and I didnít think that the Super Committee would be able to reach a deal.
Sequestration will go into effect at the beginning of 2013, unless Congress acts to delay or alter its implementation. Simply put, sequestration is not a responsible way to reduce spending. The cuts in 2013 will be across-the board and they will be deep. For next year, sequestration will mean an approximate cut of $55 billion to Defense programs and an equal cut of $55 billion to non-defense programs. There has been some discussion among House Members about addressing the pending cuts to Defense programs this fall. I do not support sequestration and am willing to work with my colleagues on a better way to reduce the deficit. I will not, however, support any budget compromise that only addresses defense cuts. It must also include a more sensible way to address non-defense spending reductions.
I appreciate your interest in these e-updates and I thank you for all the feedback I have received on them. I know the news hasnít always been good, but I hope I have given you some insight into my thinking when it comes to the important issues our country faces. Congress has some big questions to confront in the months ahead and I will do my best to represent your interests.