Jim's Column

Getting Our Fiscal House in Order

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Washington, December 2, 2010 | Wendy Riemann (202-225-5101) | comments
Whether I’m at a fish fry, a pancake breakfast, or visiting with small business owners in Wisconsin’s Fifth, the issue people continually talk with me about is outrageous government spending. It seems everyone is concerned about the piles of debt that we are running up, and rightfully so. Seniors and those approaching retirement age worry that Social Security may not be there for them. And while every generation hopes to leave future generations better off than they were, our growing debt is making that a growing challenge.

One of the first votes that the newly elected Congress will take in January is to increase the debt limit. The debt limit is the legal limit on how much the federal government can borrow. Earlier this year, Democrats in Congress voted to increase the debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion. With the deficit running more than $100 billion per month, the Treasury Department expects that Congress will need to raise the limit again by summer.

My newly elected colleagues and I are going to have to think hard about voting to increase the debt limit. Republicans did not do the best job of controlling spending when we held majorities in the House and Senate, as good-intentioned conservatives strayed from their principles… and we paid the price in 2006 and 2008. It’s my hope that since so many new Members were elected on a pledge for fiscal responsibility, they will uphold that pledge, as well as remember the fiscal lessons learned from previous Congresses.

As I’ve often said throughout my career, it’s not what a politician says, but how he or she votes. My voting record shows being fiscally responsible is not a trend, but my voting style. I have cast many votes that have been unpopular with the previous and current White House, but I have stuck to my guns to ensure transparency, accountability and that taxpayer dollars are not wasted.

The new Congress will have many opportunities to cut spending – and Congress should. Families in Wisconsin and across the nation are spending less and saving more, and it is time that Washington does the same. I pledge to all of you in Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District that I will continue to vote against wasteful government spending. With a renewed commitment, we can put America’s fiscal house in order again. 

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