WASHINGTON - Many families in Northern Michigan are deeply concerned about our nation's future. They have good reason to be - we are facing a weak economy, record deficits and a federal government we can't afford. For the past two years, lawmakers and the Administration have endlessly debated and dissected our nation's fiscal crisis, only to kick the problems down the road for another day. Well, I believe that day has arrived.
The time to finally start addressing our nation's fiscal problems is now.
As the negotiations between Capitol Hill and the White House continue, my position has remained the same. I believe we need to address this nation's fiscal challenges by making serious, significant spending reductions and enact tax reform that lowers tax rates while eliminating loopholes and special giveaways. This approach represents a real opportunity for compromise with President Obama and Congressional Democrats, while laying the groundwork to get this country back on track.
Rep. Dan Benishek
There is plenty of blame to go around for this fiscal crisis, but the fact is our federal government spends too much money. Both political parties have been guilty of being irresponsible with our precious taxpayer dollars. It has resulted in a staggering $16 trillion in national debt and a federal government that is borrowing over .40 cents for every dollar it spends. We need to take a serious look at reducing all areas of the federal budget, including defense spending and eliminate wasteful spending like the President's new health care law and taxpayer giveaways to failed companies like Solyndra.
President Obama has stated that he wants to see a "balanced approach." In response, House Republicans have offered a reasonable compromise plan that will save $2.2 trillion through tax reform in combination with real, significant spending cuts. This plan is by no means perfect, but is a solid foundation for long term debt reduction and contains the revenue increases the President has asked for.
The President wants other people to pay for his massive federal spending by raising taxes on wealthier Americans and many small business owners. The President's tax rate increases may fulfill his campaign promises, but they won't create jobs and will not even put a dent into our budget deficits either. The President's tax increases would only fund the government for a mere eight days and it would take 381 years to pay off the national debt with the revenue generated. That's not a plan to fix our problems. Additionally, economic experts have warned these tax hikes will destroy as many as 710,000 jobs nationwide, including 21,000 jobs right here in Michigan.
The President has yet to offer any serious plans to reduce spending. Just recently, the President's opening bid in negotiations with House leadership was a demand for $50 billion in new federal stimulus spending and for Congress to give Mr. Obama the authority to unilaterally raise the nation's borrowing limit. With a $16 trillion dollar debt, President Obama is actually proposing more federal spending. That's not a "balanced approach" - that's the same policies that have lead to this fiscal crisis.
Ultimately, this debate is not about Democrats and Republicans. This debate is about what kind of future we will leave for our children and grandchildren. Addressing our nation's fiscal problems is not complicated; it just requires the leadership and the will to do it. In last month's election, the American people chose a divided government and with that comes the responsibility for both sides to work together.
I am hopeful the President will recognize this and finally work with both parties to find the solutions the American people deserve.
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Dr. Dan Benishek is a general surgeon and is serving in his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives.