February 6, 2011

Deficit talk fails to match challenge

CHICKASHA — After experiencing a self-described "shellacking" in the midterm elections, many believed President Obama finally got the message that the American people are fed up with wasteful spending. Unfortunately, his State of the Union address last week demonstrated that he still doesn't get it.

As the Associated Press pointed out, "Obama offered far more examples of where he would spend than where he would cut." The speech was full of new spending projects, from construction of high-speed rail to creation of mythical "green" jobs.

However, Obama had precious little to say about spending cuts. While House Republicans voted hours before the speech to cut spending back to 2008 levels, the president merely called for a five-year spending freeze at the current, record-high levels. With yearly spending expected to reach $3.7 trillion next year, we need to reverse spending, not just freeze it.

Not only did the president fail to put forth specific spending cuts, he continues to oppose the elimination of even the most frivolous of government programs.

On Wednesday, the House passed my bill to eliminate taxpayer funding of presidential candidates and political conventions. The Presidential Election Campaign Fund is an outdated program that doesn't help feed or educate a single American, doesn't build one mile of road and doesn't keep us safe.  The only people who benefit from the program are a handful of long-shot presidential candidates who receive taxpayer-funded assistance to run their campaigns.

It's hard to find a more narrow, privileged special interest group than that.

Yet the White House issued a statement opposing the legislation even though it would save $617 million over 10 years.

If Democrats won't support cutting a program that doesn't benefit a single ordinary American, what cuts will they support?

New budget projections show that time is running out to get serious about the deficit.

The day after the president's address, the Congressional Budget Office released a grim new budget outlook that specifies exactly what the stakes are. The report projects a 2011 budget deficit of $1.5 trillion. Unless we succeed in reversing course, national debt will reach 77 percent of GDP by 2021. Social Security will be bankrupt by 2037.

The November elections demonstrated the American people are keenly aware of the approaching fiscal catastrophe and want Congress to act.

If President Obama offered a legitimate deficit reduction plan, he would certainly find allies in the American people and the Republican House.

Yet his State of the Union address showed no signs of the necessary urgency and commitment.

Even the Washington Post found the president's rhetoric "disappointing" and expressed hope that "some members of Congress will display the courage the president has lacked." House Republicans are already leading the charge to reduce spending.

The American people are onboard. President Obama is welcome to join us.

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