USA Today: Next fight to be about trillions, not billions
This week, Congress is moving toward approval of an agreement on the largest spending cut in history to help begin to create a better environment for private-sector job growth.
While the president's party still controls Washington, House Republicans have dragged a reluctant Senate and White House into taking this imperfect first step toward getting spending under control. The agreement will reduce government spending by $38.5 billion over the next few months — and by hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming decade.
This is real money. And as Stanford University economics professor John B. Taylor observed, "Reducing discretionary spending in 2011 ... will help establish credibility and show that government can actually take needed actions, not just promise to take them."
But the agreement is far from perfect, and we need to do much more if we're serious about creating new jobs, fixing our spending-driven debt crisis, and ending the uncertainty that continues to plague our economy.
That's why this week, we'll advance our fight from saving billions of dollars to saving trillions of dollars as we turn our full attention to the GOP budget outlined by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., aptly titled "The Path to Prosperity."
The Path to Prosperity is a powerful blueprint for economic growth and fiscal responsibility that will help our economy get back to creating jobs, stop Washington from spending money we don't have, and lift the crushing burden of debt that threatens our children and grandchildren.
Before serving in Congress, I ran a small business. Created jobs. Met a payroll. I understand how important the Path to Prosperity is because I've seen firsthand how irresponsible choices in Washington hamper our economy by creating uncertainty and eroding confidence.
Small businesses are the engine of job creation in America, and every decision a small business owner makes — particularly when it comes to making a new investment or adding payroll — involves weighing risks.
When government engages in policies that rattle confidence or decrease predictability, employers tend to do the logical thing: They sit on their hands. Rather than hiring new workers, launching new ventures, or investing in new equipment, they stand pat, keep their heads down and attempt to ride it out.
The Path to Prosperity seeks to end much of that uncertainty. It leads where the administration has failed and takes on autopilot spending that's driving our debt crisis while preserving critical health and retirement security programs for the future; expands American energy production to create jobs and address rising gas prices; repeals and defunds the health care law that threatens jobs; and much more.
The budget by Chairman Ryan has set the bar. If the president is willing to follow our lead and offer serious proposals that address the drivers of our debt and the barriers that are holding back our economy, we'll welcome it, and we're open to hearing them. But in order to be credible, the White House plan must preserve and protect programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and set us on a path to pay down the national debt.
So far, the president has only outlined an irresponsible budget that would impose a job-crushing $1.5 trillion tax hike, add $9.1 trillion to the debt over the next decade, and do nothing to address our autopilot spending. Instead, it locks in place the spending binge that has increased every child's share of the national debt to $45,000.
Rather than removing uncertainty for private-sector job creators and bolstering confidence in our economy, the president's budget is likely to deepen anxiety among families, small business operators and investors — the people who really create jobs in America.
President Obama also wants a debt limit increase, but says spending cuts and budget reforms shouldn't be attached to it. Americans will not stand for that. We must follow their will.
More of the same spending, taxing and borrowing will not make our economy stronger or our future brighter. This is why the spending cut agreement is important. While not nearly enough, these cuts represent a first step in taking our nation off the path to national bankruptcy, to giving employers the confidence they need to expand their businesses, and to sparing our children of lives indebted to foreign countries such as China.
Republicans control only one-half of one branch of the federal government, but we are committed to using our limited power to maximum effect in the effort to end the uncertainty facing job creators and put our economy back on a path to job creation and prosperity.
John Boehner, R-Ohio, is speaker of the House of Representatives.