The Fiscal Responsibility Act being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives is a modest attempt to address the skyrocketing national debt that Congress has ignored for far too long. Unfortunately, this legislation fails to tackle the root causes of Washington’s spending addiction. I will not be voting for it.
Our nation’s finances are in disarray, and although Republican leadership has worked hard to find a responsible compromise with an unresponsive Senate and president, the Fiscal Responsibility Act just doesn’t live up to the name.
First, the good: the proposition would eliminate insidious “adjustments” to discretionary spending within past appropriations bills, while restricting appropriations being made in advance by future bills, except for veterans and tribal health programs. This is a needed step in the right direction.\
Most transformational would be the “Massie Rule” which compels Congress to do its job by imposing a temporary 99% continuing resolution-level cap until we get all 12 regular appropriations bills passed. Given the historical incompetence of past congresses, this almost certainly means a statutory 1% cut year over year.
The Massie Rule is an outstanding provision and one that I wish we could make permanent — in a better bill. Unfortunately, it is written to expire in less than two years, and there is a 3-month gap between the budget due October 1st and when the rule kicks in on January 1st of 2024, a political eternity during which many lousy bills can get through.
Many Americans still remember the debt crisis in 2011 that led to the “fiscal cliff” and sequestration. What many don’t remember is that the chaos arose because our national debt had ballooned to an unbelievable $15 trillion and sat at around 99% of our GDP! Congress took extraordinary measures to address this disaster, or so we were told.
Today the national debt is over twoce that amount at $30-plus trillion and exceeds 123% of our GDP.
Republicans had the ability to tackle this problem years ago when we had the White House and commanding majorities in Congress. We can’t expect to completely fix this situation with today’s razor-thin majority, but we took a solid step forward by passing the Limit, Save, Grow Act earlier in May. GOP leadership negotiated with President Biden in good faith, understanding the limitations of our position.
The debt limit agreement currently laid before the House makes motions in the right direction but fails to achieve the spending reforms that Americans have demanded of their government. We cannot shave a mere fraction off 11% of the budget and call it a victory.
This proposal is also a missed opportunity: it drops our hard-fought REINS Act, a lifesaving measure for the American economy that would limit the power of the unelected regulators and restore decision-making to the people and their representatives in Congress. What good are “savings” if the president can spend more than we save by executive orders?
Furthermore, this plan kicks the can down the road and gives the president a blank check for the rest of his presidency, a mess that will have to be addressed in a lame duck session of congress in early 2025.
The Limit, Save, Grow Act we passed two weeks ago was the original compromise bill, and I still support it. We tailored the Act to achieve necessary cuts to federal spending, rein in Washington bureaucrats and preserve the same pre-COVID spending levels that President Biden himself praised exactly one year ago.
We can and must do better. Fiscal conservatives should continue to work together, grow the movement, win back the Senate and the White House and finally deliver on our promises to the American people.
U.S. Rep. Rich McCormick represents Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.