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The most important event of the week will be decided on the floor of the House of Representatives.. Unfortunately, it largely will go unnoticed.
It isn’t as tantalizing as those racially charged protests over the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. It isn’t as emotional as those Supreme Court arguments over the constitutionality of Obamacare. Nevertheless, it is vitally important to the future of our country and will have an impact on each and every one of us.
It’s the annual battle over the federal budget, which will be argued on the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday and decided – for better or worse – on Thursday.
Don’t nod off on me. There are a few important things that every citizen should know: All spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives. That is because your member of the House is your closest link to Washington. He (or she) must stand for re-election every other year so that he can be held accountable. We are supposed to watch our representatives, weigh in on these matters and put them on notice when they fail to keep the nation’s books balanced and under control.
Does that sound like a pipe dream? In reality it is because we citizens have grown lazy. Most people don’t even understand the process.
The budget plan that will be adopted is not unlike the budget plan worked out on the kitchen tables of average families. It is a broad outline of spending for the coming year. You know what revenues will be coming in, and you work out your spending accordingly.
Unfortunately, our representatives work out the budget by adding to the nation’s credit card. This has to stop!
The plan that will likely be adopted is the plan worked out by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. It is the plan favored by the Republican leadership. The Ryan budget has been described as “harsh,” “draconian” and a “reverse Robin Hood” by Democrats who want to go on piling up red ink as far as the eye can see. It has been described as “reasonable,” “balanced” and “an important first step toward balancing the budget” by Republicans who want to hold the line somewhat, but not rock the boat.
None of these descriptions are adequate or accurate. No doubt you have heard that the Ryan budget would cut the deficit and roughly $5 trillion in spending over the next decade. Don’t get excited!
The first thing you need to know is the difference between cutting the deficit and the national debt. Unfortunately, most people think they are one and the same. When they hear politicians talk about cutting the deficit, they automatically think we will begin to live within our means and begin paying off our behemoth national debt. Nothing could be further from the truth!
When you hear national debt, think of a chocolate cake. The deficit is the icing, or the amount of our overspending, that we keep piling on top of that cake year after year.
The Ryan budget outline would spend $5.3 trillion less than the budget offered by President Obama (which will never be passed), but 10 years down the road, we will still be spending $287 billion more than we take in. This is shameful!
While there are many needed reforms in the Ryan budget, it is hardly draconian! In reality, it is a mere baby step down the road to fiscal sanity. When you hear that it is spending trillions less than Obama, remember Obama’s new budget would raise spending from today’s $3.8 trillion to $5.8 trillion in 2022.
There will be many budget proposals offered on the House floor over the next two days. House Democrats will offer one that would add $6 trillion in deficits over 10 years, compared to the $6.4 trillion in deficits proposed by President Obama and the $3.1 trillion in deficits proposed by Mr. Ryan.
The only truly responsible budget plan that will come up for a vote is from the Republican Study Committee (a coalition of conservative House members). It would spend $7.5 trillion less than President Obama, offers much needed reforms but, more importantly, actually balances the nation’s books (ends all deficit spending) in five years. This is the one that deserves your wholehearted support.
If you care about your children and the future of this country, now is the time to weigh in with your congressman.
Don’t be lulled to sleep by headlines that you can do nothing about. Leave the Trayvon Martin case to law enforcement and Obamacare to the Supreme Court. Invest in a phone call to Washington that can make a real difference.