Weekly Columns

A tax increase looms for nearly all Americans in 2013. For Arkansans, the average tax increase is estimated to be more than $2,000 per tax return and that’s not stopping the federal government from burning through taxpayer dollars and borrowing 41 cents of every dollar it spends. What the government spends our taxpayer dollars on will likely surprise you. Programs like promoting caviar consumption, allowing video gamers to relive prom night to the tune of half a million dollars and promoting beauty products for pets for another half a million dollars are all examples of wasteful government spending that should not continue. 

In his third annual wasteful spending report, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn outlined more than $18 billion in shocking government spending. This misuse of taxpayer dollars are just some of the outlandish programs taxpayers are footing the bill for. ‘Wastebook 2012’ draws attention to the unnecessary and duplicative government programs. 

Sen. Coburn points a finger at the legislative branch in Wastebook, questioning the work ethic of both chambers with fewer work days in the nation’s capital and the workloads of both chambers as excessive spending pushes our national debt over $16.2 trillion and Congress’ inaction to address this important issue. 

Millions of American families are cutting back, forced to rein in their budgets and Congress must do the same. Frivolous spending by Washington has become all too common because of Congress’ lack of fiscal discipline which starts with passing a budget. It has been nearly three and a half years since the Senate last passed a budget resolution. Voting on this budget blueprint determines how we spend and appropriate money. Instead, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has helped create a blank checkbook system that continues to increase our national debt which today stands at more than $51,300 per person. 

Washington needs to set spending priorities. A line by line determination of how federal dollars are spent is a good example of what needs to be done to rein in spending so we can get rid of low-priority projects. 

Congress needs to act to put our country on a path of fiscal responsibility. Approving a budget resolution is a basic obligation of Washington. The American people deserve a budget that reins in spending, balances our budget and exercises fiscal discipline. 

The Senate needs to pass all appropriations bills before the start of each fiscal year and approve the No Budget, No Pay Act,  legislation that withholds the paychecks of lawmakers for failing to pass a budget. My colleagues also need to approve the Honest Budget Act. This bill would put an end to some of Washington's most blatant and dishonest budget gimmicks and hold Congress accountable for unsustainable spending. 

We cannot continue to tolerate Washington’s lazy approach to spending and budgeting. Washington needs to make tough decisions and prioritize how taxpayer dollars are used so future generations of Americans can continue to realize the American dream.