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26 July 2011

Dempsey: Balancing the Federal Budget: A “Show-Me State” Solution

For weeks now, the news out of Washington, D.C. has centered on attempts by Congress and the President to reach a compromise on raising our national debt limit – essentially the amount of money we are allowed to borrow to continue to operate the government. One side proposes more spending and higher taxes while the other attempts to extract promises of cuts to bloated federal programs. Giving urgency to these negotiations is the fear that the looming failure to meet our financial obligations will seriously undermine confidence in the economy.

While the details of the negotiations are often lost in the fog that seems to hover over Capitol Hill, this impasse points to one very obvious fact – it is high time to bring our runaway debt under control. The solution to this problem is to bring a healthy dose of common sense from the Show-Me State to Washington.

For many years, state legislators here in Jefferson City have been required by Missouri’s Constitution to balance our annual budget. If we run out of money, we tighten our belts and make cuts to programs. It’s that simple.

Unfortunately, the President and Congress are not bound by the same rules. When they run out of money, they just print more or write an “IOU” to be paid by future generations. For the sake of our nation’s health and stability, this kind of irresponsible spending must stop.

I am convinced that despite the political rhetoric, voluntary (i.e. superficial) budget cutting will not work. It is time that Washington adopt Missouri’s model of a balanced budget amendment that will require the federal government to live within its means.

I am pleased to say that some in Congress do understand our nation’s dire financial straits and are proposing just such an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. If this amendment were to pass both the U.S. House and Senate, it would need to be ratified by at least 38 of the 50 states. As I have mentioned before, I have written to the sponsors of this legislation in the U.S. Senate to let them know I will work to secure its ratification here in Missouri.

Also, when the Missouri General Assembly reconvenes in January, I intend to sponsor an official resolution calling on Congress to send the states a balanced budget amendment so that we can quickly ratify and put it into effect.

It is important that balance be brought to our national budget. The current levels of federal spending and borrowing cannot be sustained. Rather than sit idly by as our children and grandchildren are saddled with mounting levels of debt, we must take action to bring some common-sense reform to Washington.

I always appreciate hearing from you. If you have any questions about the topic discussed above, or any other issues, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

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