Letter to the Editor: Where are the Democrats’ deficit reduction plans?

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OPINION — Much to the delight of budget hawks within the Republican Party, some Democrats have begun to express concerns about record budget deficits. I share these concerns. As a member of the House Budget Committee, I stand ready to evaluate a budget proposal from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth. There is just one problem: They don’t have one.

Congressman Chris Stewart, R-Utah, speaks in Hurricane, Utah, Aug. 5, 2019. Stewart is the author of a letter to the editor submitted to St. George News. | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

At a recent hearing, Democrats on the Budget Committee tore into a Trump administration budget proposal intended to balance the budget within the next 15 years. Their arguments echoed concerns expressed on the presidential campaign trail by Democrats like Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar.

Buttigieg, at a New Hampshire town hall in early February, told Democratic voters “the time has come” to do something about the budget deficit. Klobuchar has said on the debate stage she intends to reduce the deficit, going so far as to propose a dedicated fund for deficit reduction.

On this issue, we have common ground. I welcome input on the budget process, and I am anxious to debate a budget proposal. But to date, the only person who has shown an interest in actually addressing this problem is President Donald Trump. Although Democrats don’t like his proposal, so far, they have not offered the public an alternative.

Back on the House Budget Committee where I serve, no such plans have emerged. Instead of proposing solutions, House Democrats have taken the easier path of criticizing the efforts of the Trump Administration to outline a plan. As I said in the hearing, “House Democrats haven’t done the work. They’re not in the arena saying what they would do. They continue to sit on the sidelines, pecking like chickens at the efforts of the President’s budget.”

The responsibility of the House of Representatives to set budget priorities for the future is one of our core responsibilities. It is perhaps the most important responsibility in Congress. Yet, Democrats are not fulfilling that responsibility.

Setting a $4 trillion budget should be a serious effort. The tax dollars we collect from our constituents deserve more consideration than House Democrats have thus far been willing to give. The effort to craft a budget should be bipartisan, one in which both sides put forward ideas.

It’s a process that can work. But it requires effort on both sides. We are all trying to provide for our national defense, for equal justice and for the common good. Though the debate over details can be contentious, it’s a debate for which the American people elected us. But instead of proposing solutions, House leadership and members of the Budget committee have focused on criticizing the Trump budget in language so contentious and over-the-top, that most Americans don’t take it seriously.

Our federal agencies need sustained, predictable appropriations to function efficiently. In particular, our Defense Department needs to be able to plan more than a few months at a time. The budget is more important than investigations. It is more important than impeachment. And it is certainly more important than the next election.

Republicans on the House Budget Committee stand ready to work with our colleagues on behalf of this nation to outline a vision and set priorities for the coming year. But until we see a budget from House Democrats, we have nothing to go on. There is no time to waste. It’s time to get to work.

Submitted by CHRIS STEWART, Utah Congressional District 2.

Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.

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