Reviving the balanced-budget amendment

By Rep. Paul Broun

Media outlets last spring frantically attempted to follow a growing trend of protests exploding across the country. It started with individuals – angry with high taxes and frustrated with Washington’s outrageous spending – expressing their disdain throughout the nation at local courthouses and state capitols. One year later, what began as a few demonstrations has grown into a nationwide movement by millions of Americans who understand what many in Washington still don’t comprehend: An increase of government spending equals higher taxes, higher debt and, ultimately, less freedom.

After writing another check to the Internal Revenue Service, what can American families expect as a return from Washington’s big spending? The simple truth is a whole lot of debt. Under the current administration, the U.S. national debt has reached $12.9 trillion – which means each taxpayer owes more than $117,000. And that number is expected to grow. In fact, President Obama’s most recent budget proposal would triple the national debt by 2020. The American taxpayers are not the only people wary about the increase of spending and looming national debt. China recognizes the danger and has reduced its U.S. debt portfolio over the past three months.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke recently explained that there are three options to control our unsustainable deficits: Increase taxes; reform entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicare; and/or decrease spending. With Georgia’s unemployment at a record-high 10.5 percent, increasing taxes is simply not an option. With time and effort, it is feasible and necessary to reform entitlement programs. However, we have the opportunity to decrease federal spending today.

A valuable tool that could help rein in these runaway deficits is my balanced-budget amendment, H.J. Res. 75, which would amend the U.S. Constitution to ensure that the federal government does not spend more tax dollars than it takes in. If an American family overspends or hits hard times, it has to adjust – Congress should be expected to do the same. After decades of deficit spending, it’s time to make balancing our budgets the rule – not the exception.

Rather than squeeze one more penny out of the American taxpayer, we need to reduce wasteful and all-too-often unconstitutional spending. If we reduce spending, balance our budgets and protect the taxpayers’ pocketbooks, Congress can restore fiscal discipline and regain the trust of the American people who sent us to Washington. However, we have to make the tough decisions today in order to preserve our children’s future tomorrow.

Presidents and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have disappointed the American people with actions that fail to live up to their fiscally responsible rhetoric. Time and again, we have heard promises of fiscal discipline only to see those promises cast aside. Do you really trust the same politicians that have added trillions of dollars to our debt to clean up their own mess? If the American people want change, they have to demand it from their elected officials. I urge you to educate yourself on the issues and get involved to ensure that Washington returns to the limited authority enumerated in Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. It is time for Washington to provide the fiscal restraint the American people want and need.

Rep. Paul Broun, M.D., is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia.

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