The government does not lack revenue. Last year it collected over $2.4 trillion in taxpayer dollars but spent an astonishing $3.5 trillion. In the first two months of the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, revenue was actually up by 10 percent, but spending increased by 16 percent, mainly due to explosive growth in our entitlement programs. We added $292 billion in debt in just two months. Spending growing even faster than revenue is an argument for cutting spending.
The cycle of borrowing and spending outside our means must stop. This is no easy task, in particular because borrowing so much money makes it feel like government costs less than it really does. The only difference between a family and the government is the government can choose to pass the debt on to the next generation. This is morally unacceptable.
Any solution to the fiscal cliff should adhere to the following principles:
• Cut Spending: These cuts must be real and specific, not a vague promise to look at cutting spending somewhere down the road.
• Tax Reform: Raising taxes on small businesses will cause thousands of people to lose their jobs. Americans and small businesses need certainty, but this does not mean extending current tax policy temporarily and fixing again in a year. In order to strengthen our economy, the House-passed bill that paves the way for permanent tax reform should be included in any agreement.
• Strong Defense: Spending cuts should not weaken our national security.
While Republicans have been making serious offers along these lines, even offering new revenue for the government through tax reform without raising rates, President Obama has been all over the map. He doubled his tax hike demand and went from entertaining the idea of serious spending cuts to proposing a new “stimulus.” He now wants us to effectively abolish the debt ceiling. Congressional leaders were right to literally laugh at this proposal.
In November, the American people once again chose divided government, re-electing President Obama and keeping in place a Democrat majority in the Senate while continuing a Republican majority in the House. Those same Americans expect us to find a way to work together. However, President Obama’s elusive moving target and unreasonable demands are making this incredibly difficult. It is time for him to come off the campaign trail and work with us. If we work together to cut spending, we can take a step towards leaving a strong, free, and prosperous America for the next generation.
U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., resides in Tupelo and represents the 1st Congressional District. He may be contacted through his Washington office at (202) 225-4306 or his Tupelo office at (662) 841-8808.