The Corner

Busted Caps, Broken Promises

At a time of trillion-dollar deficits and a record $16 trillion debt, Washington has a responsibility to do what families in Ohio and around the country do when times are tough: Scale back its spending.

This is especially important because the current debt level is making the nation’s jobs crisis even worse, costing the economy a million jobs annually, according to one estimate.

Bold pro-growth policies that get the economy moving will help. But they won’t be enough. Spending restraint must be part of any plan.

Democrats claim deficits and debt can be handled by simply raising taxes. The truth is there is no way to borrow or tax the trillions of dollars necessary to continue the out-of-control spending we’ve seen in recent years. There simply is no way. Trying to do so by adding debt or increasing the tax burden won’t solve the problem, and in the process will stifle the American dream for our kids and grandkids.

While conservatives were of different minds on the merits of the Budget Control Act, at a minimum, it set caps on certain types of federal spending through fiscal year 2022. In addition, it capped each category of government spending for FY 2013.

Unbelievably, just seven months later, Democrats in the Senate filed FY 2013 budget outlays that bust right through those caps. They are refusing to live by the rules Congress passed just last year to save Washington from itself, and want to push spending $14 billion above the Congressional Budget Office’s baseline, which is the required standard. These outlays deliberately put spending at the level of President Obama’s budget, which was so fiscally irresponsible that it was voted down by the Senate 99–0. Democrats are trying to do by the back door what they could not do by the front.

Even worse, this isn’t the first time they’ve done this. In March, the Senate took up the highway bill, and in April, legislation reforming the United States Postal Service. Both were important pieces of legislation, but both blew through the spending limits just agreed upon in August. Is it any wonder the American people refuse to take Washington at its word as we career toward a fiscal cliff?

Just as I voted against the highway bill and the postal-reform legislation, I believe we must oppose all efforts to spend that break the spending caps.

— Rob Portman represents Ohio in the U.S. Senate.

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