US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Getting our Country Back on Track

Rounds Logo 2016 MikeRounds official SenateGetting our Country Back on Track
By Senator Mike Rounds

As we look forward to the start of a new year, Congress and the new president will have a number of agenda items to start working on to get our country back on track. Along with executive overreach and regulatory reform, finding a solution to our nation’s fiscal crisis is one of the more important issues to address. With our debt spiraling out of control at more than $19 trillion, it’s clear that federal spending at current levels is unsustainable. According to a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), in ten years, 99 percent of all revenue will go toward mandatory payments and interest on our debt. We need to begin managing our entire budget before it is too late.

The long-term driver of our debt and deficit remains the rapid growth of mandatory payments. These include Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Already, spending on these mandatory payments, as well as interest on our debt, account for nearly three-quarters of all federal spending. Since the passage of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, Congress has not exercised oversight over mandatory programs. There is no specific committee with oversight over the efficiency of these necessary expenditures. Instead, Congress has focused on defense and non-defense discretionary spending. This makes up only about 28 percent our entire budget today. I believe now we have the opportunity to change this outdated, failing budget process.

Compare our lack of management of Social Security to South Dakota’s retirement system, in which both chambers of the legislature and the South Dakota Retirement System Board of Trustees actively manage one of the best retirement systems in the nation, every single year. Proactive management of all mandatory programs would be easier if they were voted on as part of the budget process every single year. Better management of these programs does not necessarily mean cutting them. It means making them as efficient as possible.

When our Founders wrote the Constitution, they explicitly gave Congress the task of setting spending and tax policies for our country. James Madison called this power of the purse “the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people.”

Currently, I am working with a number of other senators to find ways to revive the budget process here in Congress, so we can address our budget crisis once and for all. What we have been working on would open up the entire budget to congressional management, including mandatory payments. Our plan would also require the federal budget to be approved and signed into law. Additionally, there would be consequences for Congress should we fail to pass a budget in a timely manner.

As we move forward into a new year, I will continue to encourage my colleagues to work with us to make these important changes to the budget process in Washington. The fiscal crisis isn’t coming ten years from now. The crisis is here, and we need to face it head on.


11 thoughts on “US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Getting our Country Back on Track”

  1. Yes. We have a fiscal crisis. This crisis was created by both parties starting about 35 years ago. Taxes on the 1% were dramatically reduced as part of a neoliberal scheme known as “trickle-down” economics. As a result, today we have income and wealth inequality similar to the Gilded Age.
    Now the moneyed interests that control the government want to balance the budget by shredding the safety net that our elderly depend on? Now the corporate state needs working class Americans to give up their safety net for one more round of voodoo economics?
    Here is a plan. Raise taxes on the millionaire class. Keep the estate tax. Place a tax on financial transactions. Eliminate tax loopholes that were designed for the Trump class. Cut the military budget by 10%. With the savings we could expand Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Additionally, we could provide tax relief for working class Americans which would actually stimulate the economy.

    1. I agree with almost everything you wrote except cut military spending. We cannot have a weakened military.

    2. How about instead start with cutting government. We could get along without some of the depts., much of the regs, and much of the bureaucracy. After all excess has been done away with, then maybe start talking about expanding programs etc. The govt is like a stuffed pig — the more it eats, the more it grows, and the more it thinks it needs to eat to keep growing. Enough already!!! The people pay more than enough into the govt to keep it functioning – it just needs to learn how to do so with a little (no, a LOT) of common sense.

      1. How about we add to the idea of cutting as to cutting off the moocher states that take more in Federal dollars than they contribute in tax revenue?

  2. senator rounds – great letter. i think solons such as yourself will forge an effective relationship with the new president, and bring forth breathtakingly positive change. WHATEVER YOU DO, DO IT THOROUGHLY AND WELL. don’t ignore a single facet sir. now go get ’em.

    1. Mike Rounds accomplish something? Hahahahaha! Best joke I’ve read in a while. Thank you, Mary. 🙂

  3. How about getting rid of pensions for congress.Reading on fat check that a us senator can retire after one term six years.Would then be eligible for sixteen thousand a year starting at age 62.You wouldn’t know anybody like that would you.

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