Having compiled a long record as a conscientious fiscal conservative in the House of Representatives, it is clear that the recent political discussion focusing on the government’s spending priorities and overall economic platform in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita has introduced a valuable forum to promote the triumph of our ideas and solutions for government over the crumbling and outdated policies of the Democrat-controlled Congresses of past decades.
The federal government spends too much, taxes too much and has yet to develop a more perfect sense of bureaucratic reform. But the evidence shows — as I have publiclymaintained—that progress, though frustratingly slow as it is, is being made because of a determined and cohesive effort by House Republicans to always do better.
This has brought about an important level of debate on the vital need to promote fiscally responsible policies in Congress. And I agree that an essential point has achieved consensus in this debate: The current political dialogue on political spending is one that requires a clear declaration of principles from House Republicans. We will continue to display an earnest devotion to the ideals of a smaller, more efficient, better-prioritized government. Flaunting rhetoric on the issue of fiscal discipline will not be enough. The conservative ideals of fiscal discipline and leaner, smarter government require a legislative agenda that can be put into action and enacted into law.
That action begins with the House Republican commitment to breaking the government bureaucracy’s logjam of inefficient programs and wasteful spending. This goal will be accomplished by advancing a budget initiative that pulls up from the roots billions of dollars of wasteful spending programs that have taken hold in the federal budget for far too long.
We need to drag this woodpile of wasteful spending that is buried in the federal budget out into the light and throw it onto the scrap heap.
Our positioning on this issue — as a party that is strongly identified with the American people as sensible and determined protectors of the hard-working taxpayer — demands a unified and clear opposition to those whose policies and agendas are hostile to the taxpayer’s best interests: Capitol Hill Democrats intent on raising taxes, free-spending special interest groups intent on curing the ills of society by advocating federal dollars as the only solution and a bevy of bureaucrats more interested in an expansion of federal programs than the reduction of ineffective ones.
While tailoring our focus on the task at hand, our party must also trumpet our accomplishments. So far this year, the House-passed appropriations bills have cut 98 low-priority programs, for a savings of $4 billion and the first real cut in domestic spending since 1987. And this fall, the House will pass mandatory spending savings of at least $35 billion, to bring next year’s spending projections in line with the budget Congress passed this spring — a budget saving plan that was put in place months before Hurricane Katrina brought this debate on spending to the forefront.
This year, House Republicans streamlined the Appropriations Committee structure to allow for a more transparent, accountable legislative process for our annual spending bills. This reformed process will make it harder to hide excess spending and easier to save money in the future. Wasteful spending can be found and should be cut — like the $89 billion that never made it into the $286 billion (formerly $375 billion) highway bill the president signed last month — and as conservatives and Republicans, we should never let down our guard on this issue.
A House of Representatives guided by Republican leadership will always act in the best interests of the taxpayers and in a manner that presents solutions that grow our economy, embraces free-market ideals and promotes the ownership agenda of the American Dream. Governing with our heads and hearts focused on solutions to America’s challenges is what the American public expects and deserves. We will not let them down.
Rep. Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, serves as Majority Leader in the House of Representatives.