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A Detour on the Road to Fiscal Responsibility

March 12, 2008
Weekly Columns

Several weeks ago I was proud to be part of a bipartisan majority who – recognizing that our economy was beginning to stall – passed a stimulus package designed to get the country back on track by infusing the economy with money in the form of rebates for individual taxpayers and tax incentives for business investment.   I was deeply dismayed, however, when I saw the proposed budget for fiscal year 2009 as proposed by the Speaker of the House and her allies.  The wasteful spending fueled by massive tax hikes on middle class families makes it clear that she and her allies apparently don't understand basic economics.  What could have changed in such a short period of time?
The budget proposed by Speaker Pelosi includes the largest tax increase in American history.  Its total is estimated to be almost $700 billion over the next five years.  Here in Oklahoma that will translate into an average tax hike to every Oklahoma family and small business of over $2,500 in each of the next five years.  Only in Washington DC would you give people a tax rebate of $600 to stimulate the economy only to follow it up six weeks later with a five year, $12,500 tax increase.
The budget proposed by the House leadership allows key tax incentives that were put in place in 2001 and 2003 to expire.  According to the Heritage Foundation, between now and January 1, 2011 many of those important tax provisions will expire and significant tax increases will be triggered.  For example, the marriage penalty will return, some child tax credits will disappear, and the federal death tax will be reinstated in 2011.  These will not be tax hikes shouldered by the wealthy; they are tax hikes that hit middle income Americans and small business owners particularly hard.
To add insult to injury, this budget does absolutely nothing to deal with entitlement programs, which are real, long-term challenges facing our economy.  Americans understand that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid have to be fundamentally and structurally reformed in order to make sure these programs are strengthened and preserved for future generations. Unless and until Congress begins to make serious reforms in this regard, all the tax hikes in the world are just rearranging the proverbial deck chairs on the Titanic.  Failure to deal with this issue will result in an economic catastrophe and even higher taxes in the not too distant future.
Since I was first sworn in as a Member of Congress in 2003, I've believed the federal government is too big and spends too much money.  Nothing in the last five years has made me change my mind.  Unfortunately, members in the current leadership of the House believe otherwise.  The budget they have proposed sends a very clear message that they believe the government isn't big enough and that middle class taxpayers aren't paying enough.   This year, I will do what I have done every year since I have served in Congress, I will support the alternative budget that provides for the smallest government with the lowest taxes.  And I will also be working especially hard to see that like-minded, common sense conservatives are elected in November.  Then, and only then, will the American people have the Congress that they want and deserve.