The GOP’s balanced budget amendment deserves support
Rep. Scott Tipton
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
We have a chance in Washington to do something responsible – pass a balanced budget amendment and force Congress to live within its means.
In the coming months, as part of the debt limit agreement reached in August, the House will vote on a balanced budget amendment. This Constitutional amendment would legally require Congress to do what American families do every day, and only spend as much as it takes in.
Amending the Constitution is not something to be taken lightly, and passage requires broad, bipartisan agreement: a two-thirds majority of the House and Senate, meaning 290 representatives and 67 senators.
Once the Amendment is passed by Congress, it would be sent to all 50 states for ratification. Currently, 49 states have some form of a balanced budget requirement in place.
The balanced budget amendment is not a radical idea, but a common sense solution that nearly passed 15 years ago. It failed in the Senate by a single vote.
Since that vote was cast, our national debt has grown $9.2 trillion. We are borrowing an astonishing 40 cents of every dollar we spend, and if we fail to do something about our spending soon, by 2035 public debt will amount to 187 percent of GDP. We must act.
The president has proposed that in order to reduce the deficit and begin paying back our more than $14.3 trillion in debt, we need to raise taxes on America’s job creators, or as he calls them, “the rich.” The president’s tax increases on “the rich” would actually impact 923,000 small businesses, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
Many in the Republican Party have called this class warfare on the part of the president. That aside, I do know that the president’s proposal is bad policy. It will hurt jobs, while failing to address our spending problem.
Many of the taxpayers that the president continues to label as rich use this income to build savings for slow years when revenue is down and they still have to cover operating costs. And that’s not to mention investing those dollars to grow the business and create jobs.
As a small business owner, I have signed the front of a paycheck for 30 years. I write my business plans years out in order to ensure that I can continue to pay my current employees in addition to hiring new employees for expansion, and have the capital saved to invest in repairs and equipment upgrades.
Business owners, myself included, plan based on an expectation of the future economic climate. When that forecast is unpredictable because of looming tax increases, fees or regulations, then businesses hesitate to expand, hire additional workers, or spend any capital until certainty returns. As a result, investment capital sits and high unemployment lingers.
Accordingly, the president’s proposal to raise taxes by $1.5 trillion on our country’s job creators is wrong on two fronts.
First, it will only continue to stifle job creation and prolong high unemployment. Second, it does little, if anything, to address our debt and spending problem.
The problem in the U.S. is not revenue, it’s not hardworking American families, it’s not employers and job-creators. The problem is that Washington continues to spend money that we don’t have.
Reduced spending should be the order of the day, not raising taxes.
Do we need tax reform? We do. We can make the system simpler and fairer by addressing loopholes and establishing reasonable rates. This discussion should take place.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, without including the president’s proposed tax increases, revenues are projected to remain at historic averages, returning to their post World War II average by 2017. The government doesn’t need more money.
There is nothing average about our spending however, and since President Obama took office, the national debt has increased by $3.7 trillion – as much as the total debt accumulated from 1776 to1992. The reality is that both parties have some ownership of the runaway debt.
The American people know that fundamentally, deficit reduction begins when Washington ceases to overspend. I wasn’t in Washington to create the problem, but I am dedicated to fixing it.
To that end, I invite the president and Congressional Democrats to join me and millions of Americans in support of the balanced budget amendment that will be voted on in the House and Senate in the coming months.
I hope we can work together to cut spending, encourage free enterprise, and balance the budget. America’s future depends on it.
Scott Tipton, a Cortez Republican, holds Colorado’s Third Congressional District seat representing Western Colorado and the Pueblo area.
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