By Congressman Steve Austria
During the last Congress, our country witnessed the passage of several costly pieces of legislation that I opposed, including the $1 trillion “stimulus” package and countless “bailouts.” I have and will continue to support reversing this egregious spending and getting our nation back on a path to prosperity. That is why I cosponsored and strongly supported two bills that provided a solution for real change to our nation’s spending practices. The Cut, Cap and Balance Act (H.R. 2560) and the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution (H. J. Res. 2) called for cuts in our current federal spending levels and caps for the future spending by Congress. The Balanced Budget Amendment required Congress not to spend more than it receives in revenues while also providing a limited exception in times of war and serious military conflicts.
Jobs and the Economy
With the national unemployment rate at or above 8 percent for 34 consecutive months, it is clear that the borrowing and spending policies of this Administration have not worked. Since the failed $1 trillion “stimulus” was enacted, unemployment has averaged to 9.4 percent.
To jump start our economy and get Americans back to work, we must reverse the direction of borrowing and spending that this Administration and the previous Congress had led us. Since January, my Republican colleagues and I have worked furiously to cut spending and rein in government. We have passed 28 bipartisan jobs bills that now await action by the Senate. These bills remove the burdensome regulations that have plagued our small business owners and job creators, and promote common-sense, pro-growth policies. It is time to get America back to what it does best-create, innovate and lead.
I was pleased to be a part of the effort in repealing the “1099 Provision,” which mandated that all businesses file an IRS Form-1099 for any vendor with which they have more than $600 in yearly transactions, resulting in burdensome costs for small businesses. This provision, added to President Obama’s health care law, had a adverse impact on small businesses and was included as a method to finance this new entitlement program.
Last week I supported a bill that passed the House that provided a full year extension of reduced tax rates, offered job incentives, extended doctors pay for our seniors care, and decreased discretionary spending by over $80 billion in the next ten years without raising taxes on small businesses. Our nation’s hardworking taxpayers and job creators deserve a solution that reflects real efforts to cutting Washington’s reckless debt, and focuses on creating certainty in our financial market to grow long-term jobs that are needed to putting our economy back on a robust path.
We all want to be good stewards of the environment, but America must become less reliant on foreign on by using all of our natural resources we have here domestically. This includes wind, solar, nuclear, ethanol, clean coal, natural gas and oil. Unfortunately, the current policies offered by government bureaucrats are counterproductive, ignoring the energy resources we have domestically and excessively enforcing burdensome regulations that are costly for our nation’s employers and families. Expanding American energy production will lower prices, create new American jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, strengthen our national security and raise revenue to help tackle the $14 trillion national debt.
House Republicans launched the American Energy Initiative – an ongoing effort to stop government policies that drive up gasoline prices; to grow American energy production to lower costs and create more jobs; and promote an ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy to increase all forms of American energy. I was also a cosponsor of the Roadmap for America’s energy Future (H.R. 909). This legislation aims to cut through the bureaucratic red tape and move forward with leasing and drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and with oil shale leasing programs halted by the Administration. It also moves forward with environmentally responsible exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR), an exploration that could lead to 1 million barrels of domestic oil each day. Opening domestic offshore drilling will help decrease America’s dependence on foreign oil – something that is essential to our energy policy and our national security.
Government Takeover of Health Care
Last Congress, President Obama signed a $2 trillion health care bill into law, which increases the size of government; cuts more than $500 billion to Medicare that increases premiums on hardworking American families. These were all reasons why I opposed the so-called health care reform bill and voted this year to repeal the law by supporting H.R. 2, the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act. Congress must work hard to give Americans the quality health care options they deserve by: ensuring everyone has the right to pick their own doctor; letting doctors and patients make health care decisions – not Washington bureaucrats; and guaranteeing access to affordable health care and health insurance for all.
What Lies Ahead
This past year in Congress brought with it many difficult decisions, and as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I understand the difficult spending decisions. But, the conclusion of this year also brings new opportunities for next year to revise the expansion of the federal government and the regulatory uncertainties that are directly affecting our nation’s hardworking taxpayers and job creators, which our nation’s prosperity is dependent on.