Role of Federal Government a Major Difference Between Senate Candidates
Anchorage, Alaska. June 28, 2010 — Today, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller unveiled his 12-point plan for dealing with our nation’s spending and debt crisis. Miller believes that business as usual in Washington is driving our nation to the point of bankruptcy. “Our country must change course very soon or face the fate of Greece: insolvency; but in our case there will be no one big enough to bail us out,” says Miller. What is needed today is a concerted effort, from both houses of Congress, to acknowledge Congressional responsibility and immediately reverse irresponsible spending practices.
As a demonstration that Washington’s approach to our economic crisis remains unchanged, President Obama recently rolled out another bailout plan totaling $50 billion. It was also reported earlier this month that the American taxpayer is on the hook for at least $160 billion to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Unfortunately, that total may go much higher (Bloomberg News, Fannie-Freddie Fix, 6/14/10). Miller, who has a master’s degree in economics, added, “Regarding the overall federal budget picture, the President’s own projections have the National Debt reaching $20 trillion by the end of the decade; up from the record $13 trillion mark we just crossed last month. The total size of the entire United States economy is only just over $14 trillion. Current federal government spending levels no longer even have the appearance of sustainability.”
In essence, what we are doing today is transferring jobs and a higher standard of living from the future to the present, and debt is the mechanism we are using to do so. We want to eat our cake now and we are willing to demand that our children pay for it. Debt does not create opportunities, it limits opportunities; for our children and for every American who is forced to live under the debt created by a previous generation. This is not an American tradition that we want to pass on. Thomas Jefferson echoed the sentiments of our Founding Fathers when he declared: “I sincerely believe…that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity under the name of funding is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” (Letter to John Taylor, 1816.)
Joe Miller has committed to pursuing the following actions as our next United States Senator:
- Institute a balanced budget amendment: Nearly all states have some form of balanced budget requirement. It is time the federal government was subject to the same spending rules. In 1998, the Senate defeated, by only one vote, a balanced budget amendment, which would have put an end to deficit spending. Such an amendment will prevent Congress from increasing the National Debt beyond its present record level of $13.1 trillion. Congress would have to submit a balanced budget to the president for signature. Expenditures that exceed receipts would now require a three-fifths majority.
- End off-budget expenditures: Receipts and disbursement from the Social Security Trust Funds, and general accounting for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, should be included within the federal budget so that our nation’s entire financial condition is open to public examination.
- Line Item Veto: Most of our nation’s Governors have this power. It is time that the President has the same authority to oversee the federal budget. Joe Miller will pursue passage of a Constitutional Amendment to authorize the president to veto specific spending items.
- Require that unspent and repaid TARP funds be used to reduce the deficit: Congress allocated $700 billion in 2008. Funds went to hundreds of banks, a few insurers and U.S. automakers. However, approximately $300 billion has not been used; additionally, some funds have been repaid. Over the past 18 months, President Obama and other members of Congress have repeatedly suggested taking the unspent and repaid funds and spending them elsewhere. All unspent and repaid funds must be used to reduce the deficit and pay down the National Debt. Otherwise, the temptation to spend most of these funds on pet projects will be irresistible to the pro-spending lobby in Congress.
- No more bailouts: Over the past 18 months the federal government has bailed out Bear Stearns, Bank of America, AIG, GE, Citigroup, automakers, Fannie/Freddie, amongst others. It is time to end the idea that a single corporation is too big to fail. Such bailouts only encourage unwarranted risk taking that would not occur if businesses had to stand or fall on their own. On the macro level, bailouts can have no other effect than taking money from the productive segments of the economy and placing it into segments of the economy that are less productive. Such government interference inevitably rewards failure and punishes success. Any policy that rewards failure is not only un-American, but is so at the expense of the health and soundness of our economy.
- Repeal ObamaCare/No New Entitlements: This year the President passed ObamaCare, another new entitlement program, which is now estimated to cost $2 trillion over the next decade. ObamaCare must be repealed. Likewise, for a nation in debt there should be a moratorium on the creation of new entitlements.
- Limit increases in government spending to the rate of inflation: President Bush and the Republican Congress during the last decade were big spenders, but President Obama and his administration have taken this to a whole new level. The total federal budget went from $2.3 trillion in 2000 to $3.04 trillion by 2008, after eight full years of the Bush Presidency. It is now $3.6 trillion after only one full year of the Obama Administration (Federal Spending by the Numbers 2010, Heritage Foundation, 6/1/10). The national deficit has more than tripled since Bush’s last full year in office, from $455 billion to a projected $1.6 trillion this year. In order to stop deficit spending the federal government must cap spending to the rate of inflation plus the percentage of population growth, so that our government lives within its means just as families and businesses must do.
- End Czar layer of government: The Obama Administration has created a parallel government by employing 38 Czars, at last count, which also diminishes the consent role of the Senate. It not only clouds transparency in government, but it also adds another layer of government when the federal government should be downsizing.
- Hiring freeze for all non-essential government employees: We, as a nation, should be encouraging job creation in the private sector, not within the government. Rather than instituting a hiring freeze, as Ronald Reagan did when faced with a recession in the early 1980s, President Obama went on a hiring binge. This year, the federal government will reach its highest number of employees ever, at 2.15 million, topping 2 million for the first time since Bill Clinton declared, “the era of Big Government is over.” (Largest Ever Federal Payroll, Washington Times, 2/2/10).
- Establish a Sunset Committee: This committee will scrutinize federal programs to determine if they are necessary and where they can be cut. This committee will investigate duplication of services, waste, ineffectiveness, and will make sure programs are still necessary. It will allow for greater accountability of tax dollars. It will also determine what federal programs are best left for the states or local authorities, or are ripe for wholesale reform or elimination due to our efforts to restore limited government consistent with the US Constitution’s meaning. On Capitol Hill, we have hundreds of committees devoted to spending our tax dollars. We need at least one committee looking at ways to cut spending consistent with efficiency and the U.S. Constitution.
- Earmark Reform: The process by which elected officials request and obtain appropriated funds must be reevaluated. This includes placing a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget is balanced, and then requiring a 2/3 majority to pass any earmark. Additionally, budget requests by members of Congress must be subject to the public hearings process.
- Congressional Reforms: The additional following reforms are needed to improve the over-all appropriations process. (1) Constitutional Authority – each bill will be required to specify the provision in the Constitution that gives to Congress the power to do what the bill does; (2) Limitation of Scope – Each bill shall pertain to only one issue. There will be no “Omnibus” bills. Neither will amendments be considered that do not pertain to the subject of the bill; and (3) Regular Order – Reinstitute open rules for appropriations bills, allowing for unlimited amendments and debate.
Business as usual in Washington is no longer an option: the road leads to financial ruin for our nation. For the last eight years, Sen. Murkowski has, with few exceptions, been a wiling part of the government-spending explosion. Faced with the decision of whether to listen to the concerns of her constituents and stand with Don Young in opposing the Wall Street bailout (TARP), she instead embraced the political wisdom of the day and voted for the bailout. Alaskans remember her fateful words “I believe this bill puts us on the right track.”
Unfortunately for us, bailing out Wall Street has not put America on the right track. It has pushed America further into debt and closer to insolvency. In her current role as Alaska’s Republican Senator, Murkowski was part of one of the largest expansions of domestic federal spending since Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society.” That it occurred under a Republican President, George W. Bush, and a Republican-led Congress is of little consolation to Alaskans. Murkowski has voted repeatedly for the creation of new government entitlement programs and for the expansion of existing ones. While these decisions may make political sense, they do not make economic sense and Alaskans deserve a Senator who sees beyond political costs and benefits in making her decisions. During the last two years, under a Democratic-led Senate, she’s joined Democrats in voting for vast new spending measures against the protestations of her Republican colleagues. “We need new leadership in Washington—Senator Murkowski’s record reflects an individual who is not willing to make the tough, principled decisions that will in fact put our nation back on the right track.” (Joe Miller)