February 25, 2009

BUDGETING FOR CHALLENGING TIMES

By Senator Mike Crapo

President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress on February 24 and delivered his budget outline on February 26. I once again hold a seat on the Senate Budget Committee and look forward to examining the details of the Administration's FY2010 budget outline. While it is important to work with the President to help those who are experiencing financial difficulties, it is equally important that we protect future generations of taxpayers from an untenable debt load.

The President wants transparency, advocating accountability and oversight. The goal is a good one; however, too often, that can mean big government. Big government and over-regulation do not necessarily create transparency. Any proposal to create and implement top-down regulation must be approached with caution. History demonstrates that solutions to most problems are best first addressed on the ground where those decisions play out, not in Washington by cumbersome over-funded and under-performing programs.

It is important to address the housing challenges we have today. Still, we need to make sure that policies do not reward bad behavior, either by financial institutions or borrowers. The economic downturn began with a collapse of the housing market; if we don't fix that problem, we'll only be treating the symptoms.

Financial markets must be strengthened and modernized. To do that we need to understand what started the crisis, why it became so severe, and what steps should be taken to tackle the global financial crisis. Along with figuring out how the financial system should be organized to provide financial stability, we also need to ensure that our financial institutions are able to meet the lending needs of those who need credit-individuals and businesses.

I agree that the rise of health care costs needs to be addressed and that energy independence is a must. I support efforts to accomplish these goals by allowing people to be innovative, which encourages healthy competition. This requires the free flow of capital among businesses unencumbered by excessive tax burdens. Competition has the potential to help keep health care costs down and innovation keeps companies producing state-of-the-art health care solutions. Innovation also helps our nation promote conservation, energy efficiency, and diversify its energy supplies, all of which create jobs and encourage "locally-grown" energy solutions.

Finally, our education system must give American students access to the best educational opportunities that our world class system can provide. The best policies encourage innovative approaches tailored to students in individual schools and communities. Students, parents and schools are best equipped to make these decisions. This framework provides students in Idaho and across the United States an opportunity to perform to their highest potential.

We have relied too heavily on spending and debt creation in hopes that we can revive the economy. Small business creates 90 percent of the jobs in our economy, not the federal government. We need to increase incentives for business and rework our tax policy to encourage job creation and new investment in the American economy. The last thing we need during these difficult economic times is a tax increase.

During the campaign, President Obama promised to review every single federal program, and to eliminate those that do not work. I am eager to review the President's proposals to reduce spending and to eliminate programs which do not efficiently and effectively spend taxpayer dollars. As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, I look forward to lending an Idaho voice to the debate over how we spend hard-earned taxpayer dollars, and I look forward to your input as well, as we move into the budget and appropriations process.

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