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U.S. National Debt:

Opportunities For The 113th Congress

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

The most important objective of this Congress should be to focus on efforts that solve our fiscal crisis, create jobs for Americans and get our economy on the right track. 

I have written about the opportunity that this Congress has to take long-term actions to improve our nation's economy and discussed some of the solutions, including reforming our broken tax code and stabilizing entitlement programs.  We must also address the spending problem and strengthen budget enforcement mechanisms to stop Congress and the President from breaking spending controls we have fought to enact.  Americans are fed up with out-of-control, unsustainable federal spending, a frustration I share.  The problem is simply that the government spends too much and has so far refused to enact meaningful policies that will bring common sense back to our federal budgeting process.  Washington cannot continue to operate this way. 

Over the past two years, we have adopted spending reductions of over $2 trillion from the Congressional baseline over the next ten years.  We need to cut more, in addition to reforming the entitlement system.  These cuts and others must be locked in with real, enforceable budget enforcement mechanisms.  In addition to working to advance these reforms, I will continue to press for the following priorities:

Regulatory Reform -Along with comprehensive tax reform, removing unnecessary restrictions on capital formation and reducing regulatory overreach can help expand economic activity and American job growth by making it easier to turn ideas into successful businesses and making it easier for small businesses to remain successful and grow while maintaining important protections for consumers and investors.

American Competitiveness -Expanding market opportunities to strengthen the U.S. economy and create American jobs for U.S. industries and ensuring trading partners adhere to trade commitments must be a continual focus to improve our nation's global competitiveness.  Maintaining technical manpower through access to high-quality education and addressing development and infrastructure needs is also crucial to compete successfully.   Preserving Idaho's priorities in a comprehensive transportation reauthorization will help maintain the infrastructure necessary for shipping Idaho products and accessing markets, but in this time of massive deficits, funding for critical transportation programs must be based on a sustainable fiscal plan, and we can no longer rely on borrowing funds to prop up short falls.

Collaborative Natural Resources Problem Solving -Many challenges, especially environment and public lands issues, are best addressed through collaboration to achieve locally-driven solutions that are better than the status quo for all stakeholders.  The Owyhee Initiative, started by the Owyhee County Commissioners, utilized a collaborative model to address challenges in Owyhee County.  The result was a landmark legislative compromise, and work continues to implement all facets of the agreement.  Work also continues to advance efforts of the Clearwater Basin Collaborative (CBC) Work Group, an advisory group I helped establish to find solutions to contentious land management and wildlife issues in Idaho's Clearwater Basin.  The CBC has spawned new discussions of job creation through timber harvesting and landscape improvements, which could benefit habitat for wildlife.

There are many more critical issues-Secure Rural Schools and Farm Bill reauthorizations; border security and immigration reform, in the context of H-2A reform or other workable new guest worker programs; renewable energy promotion; Endangered Species Act improvements; wolves, wolverines, sage grouse and other species concerns; fire management; water, timber and mining complexities; 2nd Amendment rights; domestic violence prevention; addressing veterans' needs; housing finance reform;education improvements; and many more.  I will continue to advocate for Idahoans and their priorities on these and other issues that come before the Senate.  We must make the most of the opportunities ahead to make progress.

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