- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 2, 2013

Rep. Susan Brooks, a first-term Republican congresswoman from Indiana, said her state could teach Washington lawmakers a lot about balancing the budget.

Delivering the weekly GOP Internet and radio address on Saturday, Mrs. Brooks picked up on a talking point others in her party have focused on in recent days: criticizing the Democrat-led Senate in Washington for its failure to pass a budget since 2009.

“Remarkably, there are leaders in Washington who don’t understand why it’s so important for us to have a budget,” said Mrs. Brooks, a former U.S. attorney. “One Senate Democrat said a budget was not all that meaningful; another said it would just be foolish. I respectfully disagree and I’m sure many hard-working parents do as well.”

She said most Americans want to see the Democrats put their spending priorities on paper.

“A budget matters to Americans who can’t afford to see their taxes go up, or lose the jobs that would be destroyed in the process. A budget matters to people who worry about protecting and saving critical programs like Medicare and Social Security. A budget matters to younger workers who fear that more and more money will be taken from their paychecks to fund another generation’s spending spree.”

The congresswoman’s remarks came on the same day that President Obama defended as sound the overall condition of the American economy — despite an unexpected 2012 fourth quarter contraction that was reported earlier this week.

The competing messages offered a preview of how the fiscal debate is expected to unfold in Washington in coming weeks, after the Republican House agreed to a temporary deal Thursday that will keep the government from hitting its borrowing limit until May 19.

Republicans have said the interim deal gives them time to focus public attention on what they see as a clear, inarguable failure of the President Obama and his fellow Democrats in the Senate: their inability to produce a budget.

Democrats, meanwhile, contend that fiscal conservatives’ ongoing focus on “austerity” is holding back the economy.

Mrs. Brook,s, 52, noted that her Republican-controlled home state maintains a triple A credit rating and is expected to enact a series of tax cuts this year to return a state surplus to taxpayers. She said she’d like to see the same approach in Washington.

“For too long, the Democratic majority in Washington has failed to see the value in the sound model of working hard and living within your means,” she said in the taped address. “On their watch, we’ve been operating without a national budge, piling up debts that now exceed $16 trillion and unemployment levels that remain stubbornly high.”

See the entire GOP weekly address here: https://www.youtube.com/HouseConference

• David Eldridge can be reached at deldridge@washingtontimes.com.

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