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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Congress must work together on federal budget, Congressman Ross says bold, bipartisan, balanced approach needed

Each and every year, Congress must pass a budget to fund the federal government for the fiscal year, which runs October 1st through September 30th. Recently, both the President and the Republican House Majority released budget proposals for Fiscal Year 2013, which begins October 1, 2012.

Unfortunately, neither of these proposed budgets offers bold, substantive solutions that address our nation’s long-term debt crisis. The President’s budget doesn’t go far enough to cut spending and contains unacceptable deficit levels, while the Republican budget offers a plan that doesn’t balance the budget until 2040, accumulates more than $3 trillion in debt over the next ten years and turns Medicare into a voucher system increasing costs for seniors. Neither of these proposals is a workable solution to our nation’s fiscal challenges.

Members of Congress fail to recognize that we have the opportunity and responsibility to come together as Americans, stop the partisan bickering and put forward a budget that gets our fiscal house back in order. Members of both parties should be willing to reach across the aisle, compromise and work together to find a bold, bipartisan and balanced approach to solving this nation’s long-term fiscal crisis and put us on a path to fiscal stability. 

It’s been done before. President Clinton worked with a Republican Congress to not only pass a federal budget, but to also balance it and give us a budget surplus.  Though the budget surpluses didn’t last long after President Clinton left office, the experience taught us that by working together in a bipartisan manner, it is possible to get our fiscal house back in order.  It was done then and it can be done again. 

The roadmaps to achieve this goal are plentiful and bipartisan.  In fact, as a leader of the fiscally conservative, Democratic Blue Dog Coalition, I helped draft the “Blue Dog Benchmarks of Fiscal Reform,” which would cut the deficit by $4 trillion over ten years, stabilize the debt and reduce the size of government.  These benchmarks were based on the Fiscal Commission Report, but there are other large, bipartisan plans that achieve the same goals.  The ideas are out there.  Now we just need to prove that Congress has the political will to do what’s best for America.

We absolutely cannot reduce the deficit or balance our budget by cutting seniors’ benefits or by raising taxes on middle class families.  This is not what I want and this is not what the American people want. 

There is no one silver bullet that will get our nation’s fiscal house back in order.  We didn’t get into this mess overnight and we’re not going to get out of it overnight.  We need a bipartisan, comprehensive solution that includes spending cuts that are fair and make sense, major tax code reform and long-term economic growth that creates more private-sector jobs for more Americans.

Congress must be willing to work together, listen to each other and the American people to get the job done.  No one side has a monopoly on good ideas and I will continue to work with both Democrats and Republicans to reduce our deficit, get our economy back on track and put more Americans back to work.

As a fiscal conservative, I will continue to be a moderating voice in this debate, bringing everyone to the table as we find commonsense ideas that help us return to the days of a balanced budget and a stronger economy.

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