Families across western and central Wisconsin know a budget is about priorities. Responsible budgeting also means adhering to some basic principles: don’t spend more than you take in and make smart investments that will help you down the road. With that in mind, I’m working to restore fiscal accountability and discipline in Congress.
Deficit Reduction Plan
I’m committed to making the tough decisions to actually cut wasteful and unnecessary spending. We can do that by reforming four categories of spending. Click here to read the full plan.
- Rising health care costs are the fastest area of spending in the federal budget. We must change the way we pay for health care to get these costs under control. Fortunately, recent health care reform puts us on a path to do this.
- Current weapons programs are $300 billion over budget - we must bring these costs under control.
- We must reform our outdated taxpayer funded farm subsidy programs. They are not responsible to taxpayers, do not help family farmers, and have distorted the marketplace.
Office Budget Giveback
My commitment to fiscal responsibility extends to my congressional office, where I have direct control over the budget. Working with my staff, I have identified savings and cuts every year that we can make to operate my offices in the most fiscally responsible manner possible.
In 2012, I found $81,326 in my office budget to return to the U.S. Treasury, bringing the total amount of federal funds that I have returned to taxpayers to over $1.4 million since I came to Congress. Last year’s savings are on top of the sequester cuts facing the federal government, which during 2013 will lower my office budget by 8.2%.
Of course, my annual budget givebacks are not going to solve our budget problems alone. But that’s no excuse to not do what I can to make a stand on behalf of the taxpayer and show that it’s possible for elected officeholders to provide excellent constituent service on a lean budget.
We cannot let America default on our obligations because we are unwilling to work together to find a compromise on the budget. I know we can find common ground and make the tough decisions necessary to get us on a sound fiscal path. Hear me talk about the importance of putting partisanship aside and cutting wasteful spending in this Fox News interview.
Fighting to Cut Wasteful Spending
Having investigated some of Senator Bill Proxmire’s Golden Fleece awards pointing out wasteful government spending, I have long been committed to fiscal responsibility. I oppose the automatic cost of living increase for Members of Congress and I have always opposed earmarks, which were effectively ended when Congress took up legislative earmark reform.
I’m also pleased that the 112th Congress worked hard to follow basic budgeting principles, enacting the Balanced Budget Amendment to amend the Constitution to require a majority vote in each house to pass any legislation that increases spending. I hope that we continue to work toward reducing the deficit in similar ways in the 113th Congress. Last Congress, I introduced two amendments to the GOP budget bill that would have ended wasteful spending. You can see my floor speech on why I feel we should end taxpayer subsidies to Brazilian agribusiness, saving us $147 million each year. In addition, see my floor speech below on my amendment that would have ended two wasteful military programs that the U.S. Department of Defense wants eliminated for a total of $13 billion in savings. Both amendments were rejected by a majority of House Republicans.
Though our economy has improved slowly, and automatic, across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration have gone into effect, the lack of revenue, combined with big increases in spending, means the federal government borrows 40 cents for every dollar it spends in 2013. Nonetheless, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the annual federal budget deficit is projected to shrink down to $845 in 2013, its smallest amount since 2008.
It is imperative that we start making decisions that will guarantee our children inherit a better country. We must restore fiscal responsibility to get this economy growing again.