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U.S. National Debt:

Irresponsible Budgeting

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

As the first time in almost four years that the Senate debated a budget resolution, the Senate's recent debate of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Resolution was welcome.  Unfortunately, the irresponsible budget, which was enacted by a vote of 50 to 49, was filled with greater spending, taxes and debt.  We can, and must, do better. 

This budget increases spending by 62 percent over the next decade, raises taxes up to $1.5 trillion and does nothing to reform unsustainable entitlement programs that, if left unchanged, will soon be insolvent.  As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, I received confirmation during the committee's consideration of the resolution that the budget resolution has zero deficit reduction in the first year.  In fact, it increases the deficit in the first year, and any net deficit reduction over 10 years is as a result of tax increases, not spending cuts.  This is another example of the same old irresponsible budgeting.   

During the debate, I worked with colleagues to try to fix the bill that was brought forward by the Majority party.  I offered an amendment to block tax increases on lower- and middle-income Americans contained in the Affordable Health Care Act, also known as Obamacare.  Despite the President's firm pledge during the 2008 campaign not to raise taxes by even one dime on the middle class, the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) identified at least seven different tax increases in the health care law that will result in increased taxes for lower- and middle-income Americans.  In all, the JCT estimated that at least 73 million American households with incomes under $200,000 will face a tax increase as a result of the provisions in the health care law. 

The amendment I offered would have removed the harmful tax increases in the health care law.  While 45 of my Senate colleagues voted with me to protect lower- and middle-income Americans from even more tax increases, the amendment, unfortunately, failed to get the votes necessary for passage.

Another amendment I offered that unfortunately was not adopted would require that the Majority party's promised level of health entitlement savings be included in their reconciliation instructions.  While some improvements were made to the budget, they were not enough to shape it into a responsible budget that I could support.  Bottom line, this budget adds $7.3 trillion to our debt.    

Our nation needs a responsible budget that lays a strong foundation for addressing the fiscal crisis and enables the structural entitlement program reform, pro-growth tax reform and strong enforcement of spending caps that our nation needs.  I will continue to press for enactment of sound fiscal policy that controls federal spending and reforms our overly-burdensome tax code.

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