Weekly Column by Lamar Alexander: “Fix Our Fiscal Mess and Watch America Take Off Like a Rocket”

Posted on July 30, 2012

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said that the Senate will not vote on a single one of the government-funding bills being worked on by senators in the appropriations committees. I’m calling on Senator Reid to change his mind, and here’s why: We must solve our nation’s spending problem, solve our fiscal problems, and create an environment in which the private sector in this country can create more jobs. Failing to do that would, in the words of the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, be “destructive.”

This isn’t out of our hands; this isn’t out of Congress’s control. All we have to do is come to some agreement about how much money we can spend, reform the tax code, reduce the debt, and control entitlement spending. If we can do that, we’ll see our country take off like a rocket.

Why wouldn’t the majority leader allow us to do our job under the Constitution to limit spending, and get a head start on the business of putting the fiscal problems we have behind us?

If Congress fails to pass these spending bills before September 30th, the federal government will likely operate under a continuing resolution (also known as a “C.R.”), which means the government will simply be funded by extending the previous year’s spending level, rather than debating new bills that would allow the Senate to cut spending and set priorities.

This is such a breathtaking decision by the majority leader that it's hard to grasp. Here we are in a fiscal mess; everybody agrees. Everybody acknowledges, as well, that while the rest of the world is in trouble, we're just in a little less trouble, and that we can get out of our trouble more easily than the rest of the world, and that the single-biggest decision about whether we deal with our fiscal crisis and get the economy moving again is whether the president and Congress can govern.

The Senate Democrats’ solution to 41 straight months of above-8 percent unemployment is to raise taxes on small business owners – the backbone of our economy.  That’s the wrong idea. Republicans are prepared to keep the tax rates where they are while we deal with the “fiscal cliff,” which the Congressional Budget Office and the chairman of the Federal Reserve say will cause a recession in the first six months of 2013—meaning more job losses—if it isn’t prevented.

So, if we want to get our economy moving again we need to deal with the debt, deal with tax reform, and deal with the annual spending bills.

It is my hope the majority leader will decide to do all this.

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