Goodlatte to Budget Committee: The American People Deserve Responsible Governing
Earlier today, Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) testified before the House Committee on the Budget at a hearing on budget reform proposals regarding the need for a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution. Congressman Goodlatte is the sponsor of two versions of the balanced budget amendment, H.J. Res. 1 and H.J. Res. 2. Watch the video and read the text of his testimony below:
Click here to watch Congressman Goodlatte’s testimony.
House Committee on the Budget Members Day Hearing: Budget Reform Proposals
Testimony of Congressman Bob Goodlatte (as prepared) – June 16, 2016
Congressman Goodlatte: Chairman Price, Ranking Member Yarmuth, I appreciate the opportunity to, once again, testify before the Committee. In the past, I have testified before you about the need for comprehensive tax reform and a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution, and as you seek proposals and ideas for reforming the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, I would like to reiterate the need for a balanced budget amendment.
Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution, calls for a “regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money… [to be] published from time to time.” So while we are called upon to publish a federal budget, unlike those we represent, we do not often balance that budget. Despite attempts to rein in federal spending, our national debt has climbed to well over $19 trillion dollars, and the debt ceiling has been raised numerous times to avoid defaulting on our obligations.
Experience has proven time and again that Congress cannot, for any significant length of time, rein in excessive government spending. In order for Congress to be able to consistently make the very tough decisions necessary to sustain fiscal responsibility over the long term, Congress must have an external pressure to force it to do so. For many Congresses, I have introduced balanced budget amendments that would do just that. As the Committee considers reforms to the budget process, I ask that the Committee consider presenting to the states a balanced budget constitutional amendment for ratification. Forty-nine out of fifty state governments, including Virginia, are required to balance their state budgets. Congress should be forced to do the same.
The American people deserve responsible governing by their elected officials, both at the state level and the federal level. They have entrusted us with great responsibilities, and we must represent them well. Part of that responsibility lies in communicating with them and remaining accountable to them as well.
Our country’s first Secretary of State and fellow Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, warned of the consequences of out-of-control debt when he wrote: “To preserve [the] independence [of the people,] we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude.” We must take this warning seriously and work to communicate the seriousness of this threat to our constituents.
I believe it would be pertinent, in any budget reform package, to include additional transparency to the American people. For example, should the debt limit be raised, the American people should receive notice and understanding of that action. Continued increases in our federal debt ought to be paired with continued communication of those actions to the American people. As we budget and spend the American taxpayers’ dollars, it is our responsibility to remain accountable to them.
I strongly believe a Constitutional amendment will force Congress to eliminate unnecessary and wasteful spending and make the decisions necessary to balance the budget and eliminate the federal deficit. And increased transparency and communication with the American people will help increase their trust in us to the do the job they sent us here to do.
We are at a crossroads in America. We can make the tough choices and control spending, paving the way for a return to surpluses and ultimately paying down the national debt, or we can allow big spenders to lead us further down the road of chronic deficits and leave our children and grandchildren saddled with debt that is not their own.
I greatly appreciate your Committee’s work on these extremely important issues. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.