Thursday, January 31, 2013

Billy Long: We must put our nation back on the road to fiscal sanity

(In his latest newsletter, Seventh District Congressman Billy Long stresses the need for America to get its fiscal house in order.)

President Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.  We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream.  It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”  We must make tough choices now to ensure we do not destroy our country for future generations.  The time has come for Congress to get serious about tackling Washington’s addiction to spending. 
Increasing taxes and not addressing Washington’s out of control spending problem will not avert the fiscal cliff our nation continues to find itself teetering on.  We must get serious about our nation’s fiscal situation.  That means reforming the tax code to make it fairer, flatter, and simpler, and having an honest discussion with the American people on entitlements and Washington’s reckless spending. 
As you know, on January 1, 2013, the House of Representatives voted on a Senate amendment to H.R. 8, the American Taxpayer Relief Act.  This measure permanently extended income and capital gains tax rates for individuals earning less than $400,000 and couples earning less than $450,000.  The measure also extended several tax credits and deductions, permanently patches the Alternative Minimum Tax, and sets the estate tax at 40 percent for estates valued in excess of $5 million. 
Additionally, the measure provides tax credits for select renewable energy producers, prevents reductions in physician payments under Medicare, and extends current agriculture policy for another year.  The bill delayed the sequestration spending cuts until March of 2013. 
Since the Senate amendment did not cut spending I voted against it. 
The compromise package, which a majority of House Republicans voted against, further demonstrates how badly broken our nation’s taxing and spending policy has become.  This measure will not raise sufficient revenues to decrease the deficit in any meaningful way.  The president and his Democratic allies in the Senate refused to address out-of-control federal spending.  Every family and business in America knows that they cannot spend more money than they earn.  It is time for our nation’s government to live up to the same financial rules the American people do.    
Our current tax code is a mess and both sides know we need to reform it.  We all know it is too complex, too time consuming and way too costly.  Roughly 60 percent of individual taxpayers need to hire help when completing their tax return.  In 2008, Americans spent $163 billion complying with the individual and corporate income tax rules. 
In the 113th Congress I am again a proud cosponsor of the Fair Tax.  The Fair Tax eliminates the Internal Revenue Service, the income tax, employment tax, and the death tax, and establishes a consumption-based tax. 
When it comes to cutting Washington’s reckless spending I think every government agency should get a haircut.  I support across the board spending cuts for all agencies.  I believe this approach would go a long way to help identify programs that we do not need and can eliminate, saving the taxpayers billions of dollars. 
The debate over our nation’s reckless spending is just getting started this year.  In the coming months Congress will debate legislation addressing the nation’s debt limit, the sequester spending cuts and yet another continuing resolution to fund the government.  It is my hope that we use these debates to have an honest discussion about reforming entitlements to ensure they are available for today’s seniors and there when our children and grandchildren are seniors.  I also hope we can see real Washington spending cuts and finally stop kicking the can down the road.
I will continue to fight for my belief that we need to take urgent action to stop deficit spending and put our nation back on the path to fiscal sanity.

No comments: