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U.S. National Debt:

Pressing Ahead

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Considerable work is required in the 114 th Congress to build the foundation for a competitive, national economy that encourages innovation and job growth.  Improving our nation's economic wellbeing-which includes reforming our badly broken tax code, reforming entitlement programs to ensure their solvencyand establishing powerful budget controls-remains my number one priority.  In the 114 th Congress, I will use my committee assignments on the Senate Budget Committee; Senate Finance Committee; Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee; Senate Environment and Public Works Committee; and the SenateCommittee on Indian Affairsto make progress on these and other efforts of importance to Idahoans. 

As a returning member of the Senate Budget Committee and utilizing bipartisan answers on debt reduction sought as a member of the Bowles SimpsonCommission and the Senate's "Gang of Six," I look forward to working with my colleagues to develop balanced budgets that will stop our unsustainable growth ofdebt.  With our nation's debt now exceeding a staggering $18 trillion, Congress must put forth an annual budget-which has gone by the wayside in recent years.  Strong budget controls to curb the explosive level of federal spending are needed.    

As part of economic reform, we must also dramatically simplify our tax code, eliminating complexity, broadening the base and significantly lowering rates for all Americans.   Our tax code is far too big, complex and anti-competitive to serve as the foundation for the economic growth our country needs.   As mandatory programs comprise the majority of federal spending, debt solutions must also address automatic federal spending.  Most importantly, we must improve the solvency of entitlement programs-Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid-to ensure that they are sustainable for current and future recipients.  As the third ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, that oversees taxes, Social Security and certain health care programs (Medicare and Medicaid), among others, I will continue to press forprogress.  

I will utilize my position as the second most senior Republican on the Senate Banking Committee to complement this effort.  My focus is to protect taxpayers and stop taxpayer-funded bailouts, including reforming our housing finance system and preventing the government from collecting "big data" on private financial accounts.  We must also make common-sense changes to Dodd-Frank that will minimize the impact of its hundreds of new rules and regulations on community banks and credit unions so that traditional lending can thrive in all communities.

Additionally, serving on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee provides opportunities to make progress on issues from stopping the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's aggressive overreach into the lives of Idahoans to ensuring that rural areas are fairly considered for highway funding.  I welcome the opportunity to promote sensible and effective environmental policies that do not jeopardize the economy and small businesses.  I will also continue to advance locally-driven collaboration as a best means of addressing many of our environment and public lands issues. 

Further, serving on the Committee on Indian Affairs gives me the opportunity to work closely with the Tribes in Idaho to ensure that needed changes in critical areas such as education, economic development, land management, health care and others are met. 

There are many more critical issues-reducing regulatory overreach, expanding market opportunities for U.S. products, Secure Rural Schools reauthorization; border security and immigration reform; renewable energy promotion; Endangered Species Act improvements; addressing wildlife species concerns; fire management; water, timber and mining complexities; Highway Trust Fund solvency; 2nd Amendment rights; domestic violence prevention; addressing veterans' needs; education improvements; and many more.  I will continue to utilize my committee assignments and advocate for Idahoans' priorities in the Senate. 

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