Op-Eds

After Historic Continuing Resolution, We Must Have the Courage to Reform Entitlements

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Washington, DC, February 17, 2011 | comments
This past week history was made in Washington. Because there was no budget passed last year, government operation is being funded by temporary spending resolutions.
The spending resolution debated this week represented the largest savings in history: more than $100 billion. This is real money saved and is $100 billion less piled onto the national debt.
Also, this resolution was debated by what is known as an open rule – a process that allows for an open and vigorous debate and opportunity for all members to offer amendments. It is very rare (but should not be).  
I was pleased to offer three amendments which will save taxpayers $173 million. That is money for a Tijuana, Mexico sewer system, a trust fund for the Presidio (a former military compound in San Francisco), for automatic 24 percent pay raises for certain foreign service officers this year.  
This is only the beginning of the fight. The Continuing Resolution could not address entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid), parts of national defense, or debt service. These items make up 86 percent of the budget.
Make no mistake. President Obama did not include entitlement reform in his proposed 2012 budget, but we will. The long term financial security of the United States is more important than politics or 2012 elections. I hope the President and the Senate will have the courage to follow our lead.
Waste and duplication must be removed from defense spending. Entitlements must be reformed in a manner which does not pull the rug out from under those who depend on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  
We must have the courage to reform entitlements. There is no other way to end the trillion dollar annual deficits and begin paying down the more than $14 trillion national debt.
The share of the national debt is now more than $45,000 for each adult and child in America. This is not sustainable. We can’t spend money we don’t have; particularly when we have to borrow forty cents on the dollar, much of it from the Chinese, to pay for it. Even Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has identified our national debt as the greatest threat to national security. 
We have a responsibility to future generations to take immediate action. I for one will not hold the security of the United States hostage to program x, y, or z. Nor will I continue along the path of compromising our children and grandchildren’s future so that we can spend money today.
The Continuing Resolution is only the beginning. The battle ahead will not be popular and many will yield to political pressure to continue spending as usual. We cannot. We will not. Making difficult decisions now is the only way we can win this war against a great and common enemy: the national debt.  
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