U.S. Rep. Tom Cole
Special to The Sun
WASHINGTON, D.C. —
It may be March Madness in the NCAA, but a rare burst of sanity played out this month on Capitol Hill. House Republicans passed an important funding measure well in advance of the deadline. This is not an unusual occurrence since we have done the same with previous government funding legislation, as well as multiple bills to address the fiscal cliff, sequester and a number of other contentious issues.
The twist this time is that the Democratic Senate actually took up the bill in a timely manner, made amendments and sent it back to the House for final passage. This exceptional event used to be known as “the legislative process,” and it represents a welcome change of pace from the chaotic, last-minute negotiations that have become the standard during the past two years.
Thanks to Congress doing its job, we will avoid the threat of a government shutdown when the current funding measure expires. The legislation, known as a “continuing resolution,” will fund government operations through the end of the fiscal year in September at a level that incorporates the $85 billion in spending cuts implemented by sequestration. Although there is broad consensus in Congress that the cuts should be more targeted than sequester allows, it is vital that the overall amount of reductions remains intact.
The continuing resolution includes House Republican provisions to provide the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments greater flexibility to implement the cuts in a manner that will mitigate disruptions. As the budget process continues, we will work to make additional reforms that will make the cuts smarter and less damaging to the military, while preserving the fiscal discipline they represent.
While passage of a fiscally responsible government funding measure is a step in the right direction, approval of the House Republican budget resolution represents a giant leap toward debt reduction. Each of the budgets we’ve passed since 2011 has achieved balance, but this is the first time the House has passed a plan to balance the budget in just 10 years. Furthermore, the Path to Prosperity budget reaches balance through economic growth and responsible fiscal policy.
Instead of raising taxes, we reform the complex and outdated tax system to make American businesses more competitive. We’d replace the current system that features the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world with a simpler, fairer system with just two brackets of 10 and 25 percent. Allowing American families and businesses to spend their money as they choose instead of sending it to the government would raise gross domestic product by 1 percent in 2014, according to Stanford University economists. This would mean an extra $1,500 in the budgets of American households next year and more than $4,000 in 10 years when GDP growth increases by an additional 3 percent.
By comparison, under the misguided policies of the Obama administration, GDP growth last month was a dismal 0.1 percent.
The Path to Prosperity budget is miles away from the Senate Democratic alternative, which raises taxes by more than $1 trillion and never achieves balance. The American people can now choose between a budget that taxes and borrows more to pay for bigger government, or a budget based on the principle that taxpayers should not be punished for Washington’s irresponsible spending. We’ve tried the Democratic way for four years, and the results are high unemployment, stagnant household incomes and economic growth that is anemic to nonexistent. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results, the Path to Prosperity is the ideal cure for congressional March madness.
U.S. REP. TOM COLE, R-Moore, represents Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District.