Congress received a surprise last weekend. Late Saturday evening, President Barack Obama sent a letter to Republicans and Democrats asking for an additional $50 billion in "emergency" stimulus funds to help bail out state and local governments.
After justifying his new spending request, President Obama switched gears and expressed a newfound interest in fiscal responsibility. He urged Washington to "establish a fiscally sustainable budget path," "discipline the budget process," and "ensure a sustainable and responsible long-term budget."
I have just one question for the president: What budget?
The House of Representatives has failed to produce a federal budget for the first time since 1974. Georgians understand that the first step towards fiscal responsibility is to make the tough decisions and balance the family budget. Georgia lawmakers do too. Gov. Sonny Perdue recently signed Georgia's budget into law, and it contained $300 million less than the original proposal.
Similar to the family or state budget, the federal budget provides guidance for how the government should spend the American people's hard-earned money. And perhaps more importantly, a budget provides accountability and transparency.
With the national debt at $13 trillion and rising, I agree that Congress needs to discipline the budget process. Unfortunately, President Obama's spending requests do not reflect his rhetoric.
I have introduced a Balanced Budget Amendment that would ensure the federal government does not spend more money than it takes in. However, in order for this amendment to be effective, House leadership needs to complete its basic responsibility and introduce a budget.
I will continue to demand a budget, but I encourage you to get involved as well. You can help Congress decide on which spending cuts it votes on, through the new YouCut program, or propose new ideas, through America Speaking Out. Simply go to my Web site, www.broun.house.gov, and click on the icons for YouCut and America Speaking Out.
I encourage you to engage in the process and have a voice in the policies that Washington pursues.
(U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, M.D., represents Georgia's 10th Congressional District.)
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