A common sense budget for America
March 4, 2001
A common sense budget that makes sense and meets real needs is how our new President characterizes the blueprint that will determine the new funding levels for the federal government.
Last Tuesday, I was among the many listeners to President Bush's address before a joint session of Congress. He made a compelling case as to why we need to pass a budget that holds the line on spending while investing in priorities that will better the country.
Education is a top priority in the President's budget. We believe in not only funding education at sufficient levels, but also attaching accountability incentives so students will learn to read, write and do arithmetic.
Fancy computers and state of the art technology mean nothing when a student cannot read the words on the screen or do basic math on paper.
In addition to funding education and promoting accountability, we are in favor of giving local schools and communities the maximum amount of control possible in order to make education decisions. Nobody knows better than parents and teachers when it comes to teaching children.
But for far too long, the Department of Education has made decisions about where education money is spent and offered a one-size-fits-all approach that has not served American schools well. This must and will change.
President Bush's budget makes health care and medical research another high priority. We ought to ensure that the federal government does everything possible to promote cures for diseases. From the common cold to cancer, there are still many vaccinations and immunizations left to discover.
That is why we are directing resources to government research agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that lead the way in developing life-saving medicines.
Even as some economists are forecasting gloom and doom, the budget surplus numbers since Republicans took majority control of Congress have been nothing short of impressive. That is why the time is now to pay off the national debt and offer tax relief to hardworking Americans who deserve real tax reductions that will return some of the surplus to them.
Tax relief will result in job security and economic growth. By making taxes fairer and lowering income taxes across-the-board, we will stimulate the economy and give back some of the overpayment to those who paid too much to the IRS. After all, the budget surplus is really an overpayment in taxes.
Retirement security is an issue on the minds of many employees and retired workers, young and old. The President focused heavily on Social Security and Medicare during his address to Congress, including his announcement to set up a contingency fund for unexpected emergencies or additional spending needs.
For example, we may need to increase spending for our farmers, Medicare and Social Security, or national defense. That is why the President's budget sets aside almost a trillion dollars over 10 years for additional needs.
In April, President Bush will release the entire budget document and Congress will pass a budget resolution for the coming fiscal year during the same month. I believe we are going to see real progress on paying down the debt, funding our priorities of education, Social Security, Medicare, agriculture, and national defense while at the same time, providing real tax relief to all taxpayers.
The economy will be strengthened and jobs will be more secure under this type of proposal. The President's budget lays out a commendable agenda that will steer us in the right direction and follow through on our national commitments.
U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss., represents the Third Congressional District. Write him at 427 Cannon Building, Washington, D.C. 20515 or call (202) 225-5031.