|Out of Control Spending: How We Stop
In my column last week, I highlighted some of the reasons our country has amassed a national debt totaling more than $19 trillion. This week, I want to discuss some ideas and policies I believe we can and should implement to cut spending, grow our economy and get our country back on track.
As I covered in my last piece, our debt is the result of lawmakers from both parties – Republicans and Democrats – recklessly and irresponsibly spending your tax dollars. That’s why I’m proud to support H.J.Res. 2, a Constitutional amendment to balance the budget. I strongly believe the only way we’ll ever end reckless spending in Washington is to require a balanced budget in the Constitution, which is why I supported this resolution when it was considered on the House floor in 2011. Unfortunately, although the resolution received bipartisan support, it did not receive the necessary support of two-thirds of all members to pass the House. I hope we will reconsider this important resolution soon, especially considering that many states, including Tennessee, have balanced budget requirements. It’s time for Washington to play by the same rules as the states that work hard to keep their spending in check.
Earlier this month, Speaker Paul Ryan established a group of task forces to develop bold proposals to get our country back on track. While all of these groups are extremely important, I believe two of these panels – those focused tax reform and health care reform – can take real, concrete steps to get our spending under control. While Republicans in Congress have led the charge to cut discretionary spending, it’s clear that mandatory spending reforms are needed to steer our country in the right direction, and I know we can do that while minimizing the impact on hardworking Americans who rely on the programs funded by mandatory spending.
First, we must work to reform and bring fairness to our overly complicated and bloated tax code. Bipartisan and comprehensive tax reform can bring much-needed certainty to families and job creators alike, and I hope the task force is able to propose realistic changes to move us forward. Reforming our tax code can increase revenue while easing the tax burden for all Americans. Some Democrats claim the only way to increase revenue is to raise taxes, but I’m confident we can develop commonsense proposals to simplify our current tax system and lower taxes.
Next, we must repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient-centered, free market health care reform. As a physician, I know Obamacare is the wrong answer to the challenges in our health care system. I remain concerned this deeply flawed law will continue to harm Americans for generations to come, which is why I’ve consistently supported efforts to repeal this law. Two years ago, I authored a conservative alternative to Obamacare that would increase patient choice and access, lower costs and improve quality. I look forward to assisting the Health Care Reform Task Force by presenting policy proposals that will truly make the American health care system work better for patients without recklessly adding to our debt and deficit.
Finally, we need to make changes to Medicare to give seniors more and better choices. Medicare spending is expected to double over the next decade, growing from $539 billion in fiscal year 2015 to $1.079 trillion in fiscal year 2026. I want to be very clear: seniors depend on Medicare, and it’s important we take steps to make it available to everyone who has been promised these benefits. I believe we can make changes without breaking our solemn promise to seniors. We can modernize Medicare and preserve it for future generations by giving Medicare recipients more choice in their plans, while leaving the traditional Medicare option available and without kicking anyone off their current coverage if it meets their needs. This won’t be easy, but not addressing it will be harder.
We’ve got our work cut out for us, but it’s not too late to steer this ship in the right direction. Still, it’s imperative we act now. If we continue to kick the can down the road we’ll only be hurting ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.
Feel free to contact my office if I can be of assistance. My contact information can be found on my website, www.roe.house.gov.