by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)
Two weeks ago, I wrote on BigGovernment that the GOP Today is much different than the party was a few years back. I was glad that my post generated attention, and very pleased to read through the different responses – both positive and skeptical. Today I write again for two reasons. First, to announce an exciting new project devised by the House Republican Economic Working Group. Second, to take another step in earning your trust by showing you that we understand that actions speak louder than words.
We all know that Washington has a spending problem – and both Democrats AND Republicans bear some responsibility. But as I wrote last week, America is at a crossroads and the choices we make at this critical time will determine what kind of country we want to be. To get back on the right path, Congress MUST start to make some choices that simply can’t be delayed any longer.
While we won’t be able to solve our deficit problems overnight or with one silver bullet, we CAN and we MUST begin to replace the culture of spending that now dominates Washington with a culture of savings. Just imagine if your government was as focused on saving money as it is on spending money. Imagine if Congress spent less time naming post offices – 62 and counting – and more time reducing wasteful spending. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
Today, we are launching YouCut – a first-of-its-kind project designed to defeat the permissive culture of runaway spending in Congress. It allows YOU to vote, both online and on your cell phone, on spending cuts that you want to see the House – YOUR HOUSE – enact. That’s right, instead of Washington telling YOU how THEY will spend YOUR money, YOU can tell THEM how to save it. After several days of voting, on Monday, May 17th, we will announce the first winner and later that week House Republicans will call for an up-or-down vote on the spending cut. We will repeat this cycle every week for the rest of the year.
For the first week of voting, here are your choices:
1. Eliminate the Presidential Election Fund, a federal program that provides matching funds to political candidates during Presidential primaries, certain third-party candidates, and funds for political conventions. In the 2008 Presidential election the candidates raised over $1.3 billion from individuals and PACs; do they really need to supplement that with taxpayer money?
2. Prohibiting taxpayer-subsidized union activities by prohibiting federal employees from being paid by the government for performing union functions. Currently some federal employees spend up to 100% of their workweek, paid by taxpayers, doing work for their union. Federal employees unions collect millions in revenue each year and spend significant amounts on political activities and lobbying; should they also be subsidized by the taxpayer for their official functions?
3. Terminate the Department of Housing and Urban Development program that provides individuals with $25,000 stipends for completing their doctoral dissertations. Recently taxpayers have financed research on media strategies for housing policy and the use of eminent domain for urban redevelopment. Why should families who are struggling to pay for their children’s college also be asked to fund stipends from the government for those who want to write their dissertation on certain government-preferred policies?
4. Terminate the new alternative welfare program, recently created to incentivize states to increase their welfare caseloads without requiring able-bodied adults to work, get job training, or otherwise prepare to move off of taxpayer assistance. Reforming the welfare program was one of the great achievements of the Republican Congress in the mid 1990s, saving taxpayers billions of dollars and ending the cycle of dependency on welfare. This new program ushered in by Democrats is merely a backdoor way to undo those reforms.
5. Focus federal economic development assistance on areas of need. The Community Development Block Grant program currently funds a wide range of local economic development activities. While it is advertised as a way to help low-income communities, funds are also dispersed to communities with income well-above the national average. A recent study found that the community of Newton, Massachusetts, with a per capita income over twice the national average, was receiving $28 per person in CDBG funds. At the same time, other communities with income 25% below the national average were receiving $10 per person.
There they are: five simple ways to begin to talk about saving money.
You have a right to a federal government that doesn’t spend money that it does not have. Anyone who believes that President Obama, Senator Reid, Speaker Pelosi or the Democratic majorities are “concerned” about the deficit should take a look at how grossly they’ve increased spending. Make no mistake, they look at America’s massive debt and see a reason to raise taxes. But they are wrong. Our debt was born out of an addiction to spending. And if those same Democrats aren’t going to do anything to stop this addiction, we are. If those Democrats aren’t going to listen to you, we are.
As I wrote a few weeks back, a 178-seat minority isn’t going to win many legislative battles in the House. And we don’t have a lot of tools at our disposal. But I commit to you that we ARE going to use every means we have to hold them accountable. And this project is a start.
The time has come for Congress to finally show political courage. American families have been forced to face tough financial realities and make difficult but necessary decisions. Why should their government act any differently? This is not the same GOP as it was a few years ago, and with YouCut, we hope to force the Democrat-controlled Congress to begin to confront the difficult but unavoidable realities of our fiscal situation.
Please drop by http://www.republicanwhip.house.gov/YouCut and vote to help us put Uncle Sam on a diet.