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‘It’s their money, not the government’s’

Enzi addresses spending addiction, reliance on tax increases in statement before budget committee

March 13, 2013

As the Senate Budget Committee begins considering the first budget resolution in almost four years, there needs to be recognition that out-of-control spending and not a lack of tax revenue is America’s most significant fiscal problem, according to U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., one of two accountants on the Senate Budget Committee. Enzi said the $16 trillion national debt is the result of simply ignoring a problem and avoiding it out of fear of harming ones political future. Excerpts of Enzi’s comments he made today before the committee are below.

“I would ask the majority party if they are certain that absolutely all the wasteful spending that occurs from Washington has been identified and eliminated.  If not, shouldn’t that be done before even thinking about asking the public to send in more of their hard-earned money to the government?  Let’s not forget – it’s their money, not the government’s money.  Government has grown during the recession.  It’s time to grow the economy instead of government.            

“We should also require that each federal agency identify and prioritize its activities and services so that when federal budget cuts are implemented, agencies can start by cutting the “worst first.”  By doing so, we can maintain what we do well and cut what we don’t.  We can and should identify the least-harmful, least-painful spending reductions, rather than cut the high-profile services that are sure to cause public outcry.  If we don’t get serious about cutting spending soon, the programs that people enjoy and rely on won’t be there in the future.

“With a budget that recognizes our most significant fiscal problem – out-of-control spending – and addresses that problem in a serious and thoughtful way, we can begin to right our nation’s fiscal ship. I’m concerned, though, that the budget that the chairwoman will release later today will not do that.  Instead, I imagine it will call for raising taxes yet again and won’t fully address the primary driver of our growing debt – that is, without changes, bankruptcy for Medicare and Social Security.  I believe the path forward should include pro-growth tax reform that lowers tax rates and broadens the tax base, plus reforms for future recipients of mandatory spending programs so that they are there for those who need them the most in the future, and smart spending cuts so that we can begin to dig ourselves out of the fiscal hole we’ve gotten ourselves into.

“Our nation’s debt is over $16 trillion.  It’s projected to grow by another $9 trillion over the next 10 years.  Our debt per person is now almost $53,000.  For the first half of our current fiscal year (October 1st through February 28th), our nation’s deficit is almost $500 billion – we’re already half a trillion dollars in the hole this year!  Spending must be reduced!  Unfortunately, we won’t even see the majority’s plan to address this problem until this evening.

“The President has repeatedly called on ‘the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share,’ and that doing so will solve the budget crisis.  But what is a fair share?  Even without the tax hikes that occurred at the beginning of this year, the ‘wealthy’ are paying a larger share of the federal income tax burden than they did during the Clinton Administration.  I’m an accountant.  In 2009, the top 20 percent of earners made 51 percent of pre-tax income, and paid 94 percent of all federal income taxes paid.  So I ask, when is it enough?  Many of those earners that I just referenced are in fact small business owners who plow those earnings back into the business to expand and create jobs.  This era of ‘tax more to spend more’ has to stop.  Our citizens and small businesses deserve better.  The last time Congress tried to tax the rich, the alternative minimum tax was created.  Now that tax hits almost everyone, so it was significantly scaled back.”

Click here to view Enzi’s full statement.

Click here to read Enzi’s remarks.