Weekly Columns

Through the Ceiling

Senator John Boozman's Column for the Week of July 11, 2011

Jul 11 2011

By the time this column runs, it will be over 800 days since the Senate Majority has produced a budget proposal.  Should an agreement be reached between now and then, it would be monumental.  However, the fact that an agreement could even happen is a step forward, given the Senate was originally slated to be on work period back in home states the week of the Fourth of July. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid canceled the Fourth of July recess to work toward an agreement to deal with our budgetary crisis.  With the specter of default looming, our caucus, led by Senator Jeff Sessions, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, has been pushing Senator Reid to keep the chamber in session over the recent recesses.  After refusing past calls to remain in session over recess, Senator Reid finally recognized that we can’t sort this out if we aren’t here in Washington focusing on it.

I, for one, am glad Senator Reid listened.  The American people deserve an honest, open conversation about how we got into this situation.  More importantly, they deserve a commitment that we will work in good faith to end the impasse.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure we will get that from the President or Senator Reid.  President Obama has been absent from this debate for months, finally sending the Vice President to negotiate with a select group of Democrats, but essentially all they discussed are which taxes to raise on the American people.  It wasn’t until his press conference at the final days of June that President Obama reluctantly became engaged and he spent the better part of that press conference telling the American people to get ready for a tax increase. 

Meanwhile, we’ve inched closer and closer toward defaulting on our obligations.  We are at a point where our nation can no longer borrow money.  We got into this mess by spending money; we can’t fix the problem unless we cut spending.

If American families ran their household budgets like Washington runs its budget, the utilities would be shut off and collection agencies would be knocking on their doors.  If they maxed out a credit card, they wouldn’t have the luxury of telling someone else to pay for our bills.  Yet this is what the President is demanding.   President Obama, take tax hikes off the table.  Let’s get to work reining in the reckless spending and putting our nation back on a fiscally responsible path.

If the White House-engineered agreement for raising the debt ceiling does not include significant cuts and a spending cap mechanism (such as a balanced budget amendment) to prevent us from having to raise it again, then I can assure you they will not get my vote.  Anything short of that is irresponsible.

I know I am not alone in these demands.  Many of my colleagues feel just as strongly and will not back down either.  The President and Senator Reid need to understand we are committed to these principles because millions more of constituents feel this way.  We are here to do the people’s work.  Let’s look out for them, instead of trying to tell the people what is best for them.