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Robert Hurt: The Senate plan to address the fiscal cliff

Robert_HurtAs you may know, on New Year’s Day, the House of Representatives received a proposal from the United States Senate regarding the actions it wished to take to address the fiscal cliff. While I was pleased that the Senate finally offered a proposal of its own to address this crisis, I was disappointed that our colleagues in the Senate waited until the last minute and sent us a proposal that does not address our spending problem.  I believe that we must act now to address our spending crisis in a meaningful way, and after listening to the concerns of those that I represent, I was not able to support the Senate fiscal cliff legislation.

Since I was first elected to represent the good people of Virginia’s 5th District, I have been committed to putting an end to the federal government’s spending binge. For years, members of both parties have chosen the politically expedient course over what is in the best interest of our nation – casting aside meaningful proposals for deficit reduction and carrying our nation further along on a careless spending binge. The Senate fiscal cliff plan, which again delayed the deadline for Congress to achieve deficit reduction, is just another demonstration of that irresponsible philosophy. This “tax now, cut later” status quo in Washington simply cannot continue if we wish to preserve the America we know for those who will come after us.

Members of both parties agree that we need to cut spending.  But the last-minute plan hatched by the Senate makes virtually no spending cuts, it only adds to our more than $16 trillion – and growing – national debt.  Additionally, House Republicans have adopted two budgets that would make the critical reforms necessary to preserve Social Security and Medicare, yet this legislation kicks the can down the road on those reforms as well. And, what concerns me most is that at a time when our debt exceeds the size of our entire economy, this legislation proposes billions of dollars in new spending – a solemn indication that many in Washington are not taking our fiscal crisis seriously.

We have known about the looming threat of the fiscal cliff for nearly two years, and we have watched as our economy suffered from the uncertainty it created. Yet, during that time, the United States Senate failed to address this issue and took us to the edge of the cliff with its 11th hour vote. We in the House of Representatives took action this summer to replace the across the board cuts with responsible spending reforms and extend the current tax rates for everyone on behalf of the people of Virginia’s 5th District and all Americans.

After months of failing to act on our proposals to keep taxes low and cut spending, this last minute attempt was too little, too late.

In good conscience, I was unable to support continuing along this course – a course of both of fiscal inaction and of dysfunctional government. As we begin a new Congress, I maintain my commitment to working on behalf of Virginia’s 5th District, with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, to change business as usual in Washington and make the difficult choices necessary to restore our nation to fiscal sustainability.

Robert Hurt represents the Fifth District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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