New Year’s Resolutions for Congress

December 29, 2011

The process of making New Year’s Resolutions provides us an opportunity to examine the last year and identify the areas we would like to improve. The last year has been a rough one for Washington – and by extension for most Americans. So, we submit that Washington would do well to go through process. To get them started we put together a few suggestions for Congress.

Look for bipartisan ways to encourage economic growth. Americans’ top concern is the economy. They want Congress to do what it can to help boost growth, but with the failed 2009 stimulus, and their concern about the budget deficit, it’s clear they don’t think more spending is the solution. This year Congress passed three important free trade deals; the Obama Administration and Republicans in Congress have presented regulatory reforms. Congress should look for avenues like these, coupled with spending cuts, to boost the U.S. economy.

Pass a budget. Congress failed to pass a budget outline again this year. This is one of lawmakers’ most basic constitutional duties – and year after year, they fail. Families spend most wisely when they have a document outlining spending priorities; Congress should emulate this example.

Put politics last. Don’t use the fact that it’s an election year as an excuse to put important decisions off. You were elected in 2010 to work a full two years, not to campaign to legislate for one and then campaign for another. In 2011, the debt went from $14 trillion to $15.1 trillion. It’ll increase just as rapidly this year – so get to work.

No tax increases. Once again, lawmakers must resist the urge to try to mask Washington’s spending problems with tax increases. We know it’s tempting to say Washington needs more money, but it doesn’t. It needs to spend what it has responsibly and continue to look for places to cut.

No more commissions, take action. In 2010, there was the President’s fiscal commission. In the spring and summer of this year, there were the Biden deficit talks. The fall brought the debt supercommittee. A lot of talk with no concrete plan for deficit reduction coming out of any of these deliberations. Taxpayers are tired of debate that ends in stalemate. In 2011, Congress must agree to a detailed plan to reduce government spending.

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