Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

March 6, 2014

Q&A on the president's budget

With U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley
The Daily Iowegian

---- — Q: Will the president’s budget be “dead on arrival” when it reaches the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday?

A: It appears lawmakers from the president’s own political party are set to mark “Do Not Resuscitate” on the proposal before it even crosses the legislative threshold. In fact, the leadership in the U.S. Senate has abandoned even the pretense of producing a budget as required by law. The head of the Senate Budget Committee announced last Friday that the panel on which I serve would not write a 2015 fiscal blueprint to avoid “relitigating” details of the two-year budget deal approved in December. Seems like a cavalier attitude when we’re talking about $1 trillion in discretionary funding that will operate government agencies, including those responsible for administering military, transportation and education dollars. It’s a slap in the face to taxpayers who foot the bill and who would face fines, penalties, liens and fees if they opted not to comply with federal tax laws. Previews of the White House budget proposal suggest the president himself has abandoned any pretense of getting serious about putting America’s fiscal house in order. And when the president pitches adding more projects and programs to the federal ledger, it may tempt lawmakers to take a bite at the shiny red apple. But the reality is these programs would not only grow the size and scope of the federal government, they also would extend Uncle Sam’s reach even deeper into taxpayers’ pocketbooks. Apples grow on trees; money doesn’t. It’s reckless and irresponsible to continue lifting the lid on spending again, and again and again. The president also has proposed to fix stagnant wages and joblessness in America by raising the minimum wage and extending unemployment benefits. If only that would cure what ails the sluggish economy. When the president talks about narrowing the wage gap and addressing income inequality, he’s targeting the architecture of America’s extraordinary system of free enterprise, productivity, innovation and economic mobility. That’s why it’s so important to vet the tax and spending details of the federal budget. What the president is selling as economic elixirs may bear negative side effects that the taxpaying public won’t want to swallow. Restoring fiscal discipline and demanding accountability for the way tax dollars are spent are a sorely needed reality check in Washington. Economic growth is what drives the creation of good-paying jobs that will lift standards of living for people working hard to make ends meet.

Q: What happens next?

A: What the president proposes, the Congress disposes. Despite the president’s proclamation earlier this year to sidestep Congress, the legislative branch holds the purse strings and bears constitutional responsibility to write the laws of the land. No doubt, the minority party in the U.S. Senate has an uphill climb. That’s because the majority party has shown time and again it is marching in lockstep with the White House, including the damaging decision to trample on the Senate’s longstanding filibuster rules that protect the views of dissent in the greatest deliberative body in the world. Enough is enough. I’m not about to join the march to madness that allows America to tax, spend and borrow on the backs of generations yet to come. With eight months to go before the midterm congressional elections, the White House seems more focused on scoring political points by pushing expansive health care and education entitlements and provoking divisive class and cultural issues rather than swallowing a dose of fiscal responsibility and tackling tax, immigration and entitlement reform to help grow the U.S. economy. As millions of hardworking taxpayers file their tax returns in the six weeks remaining until April 15, I will continue working to hold the line on unbridled federal spending and regulatory overreach. It’s time to change the mindset that believes Washington knows best.