The people of the 3rd District want Congress to pass a responsible budget that cuts spending, protects and strengthens programs like Medicare and Social Security, and ensures that our troops have the resources they need to defend our nation. This is my goal, and I will fight to pass a responsible budget in this Congress. And if Congress doesn't do its job and pass a budget, then members shouldn't be paid.
It's been four long years since the last federal budget was passed. In that time our country has experienced prolonged economic uncertainty, high unemployment and the largest increase in the national debt in history. The effect this has had on communities is apparent in my district where storefronts have closed along Main Street, and families have struggled to find work in areas where real unemployment is near twenty percent.
The impact of Congress's inability to get its fiscal house in order cannot be overstated when it comes to the role it plays in creating economic uncertainty and slowing job growth. While we have passed responsible budgets in the House since I've been in Congress, the Senate has refused to even discuss them or present an alternative. They've failed to do their job.
It's time to send a wake-up call.
This week we passed a measure in the House to temporarily suspend the debt ceiling for four months with the requirement that members of Congress pass a budget, or not be paid. Under this measure the United States will be able to continue to pay its bills on time without risk of default. In the meantime members of Congress will have their feet held to the fire to come together and pass a responsible budget with spending reforms. If you fail to do your job in the private sector, you don't get paid. The same should be true for Congress, and that's what this commonsense bill does. It gives Congress three months to pass a budget or else members will not be paid.
Ultimately, we cannot continue to raise the debt limit without serious spending cuts that put our country's fiscal future on a sustainable course. With a $16.4 trillion national debt, passing a budget must be our top priority. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the annual interest payments on this debt amount to $220 billion per year. It's projected to reach $770 billion by 2020. That's money that could be used for educating our kids, building and repairing infrastructure, or investing in our economy.
This should be cause for alarm, but many in Washington fail to grasp the severity of the problem, and instead of passing a budget to rein in spending and reduce the national debt, just go about business as usual.
The fact is that Medicare, Social Security and many other safety nets and vital programs are on the path to bankruptcy if we fail to get spending under control. Washington cannot afford to continue on, business as usual, when so much is at stake. We must cut spending and pass a budget.
There are many opportunities to root out federal waste, fraud and abuse immediately. Examples include the $3.9 billion that was lost through fraudulent tax returns last year, millions spent on lost equipment, and billions wasted on duplicative federal agencies and programs. The list of wasteful federal spending is extensive and egregious.
More must be done to trim budgets, make programs and agencies operate more efficiently, and end reckless spending. I believe it can be done.
That's why I'm urging the Senate and President to join the House for a robust debate on spending, so that we can work out our differences with the goal of coming together to pass a responsible budget and produce results for the American people. It's our responsibility, and it's our job. We must do what is right and protect the American dream for this and future generations.
Let's get to work.
Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, represents Colorado's 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. His Washington address is 218 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515; phone (202) 225-4761; fax (202) 226-9669. His Cortez office at 10 W. Main, Suite 107 (upstairs in the Wilson Building) is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays; the phone there is (970) 259-1490. Email him through his website at http://tipton.house.gov.