Friday, January 07, 2011

GUEST COLUMN: "A New Congress Committed to Fiscal Sanity" by Rep. Bill Johnson (OH-06)

Rep. Bill Johnson with his family and  Speaker Boehner
The 112th Congress has convened, which is another way of saying that the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are back in Washington, D.C. I am humbled and grateful to serve as the new representative for Ohio’s 6th Congressional District. 

The most important thing I will do as your Congressman is to make sure that your voice is heard in Washington. As we got to know each other during the campaign, I learned that you’re tired of the reckless spending, the backroom deals and the lack of accountability for the federal government. I am committed to changing the way Washington works so that it starts working for you.

Right now, too many small business owners and working families don’t believe the government is on their side. In fact, too many Americans think their government is working against them. On the second day of the 112th Congress, we read the U.S. Constitution in the House of Representatives, which is the first time this document has been read aloud – in its entirety – in that Chamber. I participated in this reading and it underscored for me the importance of holding true to our founding principles. Our great nation began in a revolt against high taxes funding a government that did not represent us. Similarly, the American people in November voted for a new majority in the U.S. House of Representatives that is committed to representing you.

One of the first votes I took as your Congressman was to change the rules in the U.S. House to make it easier to cut federal spending, increase transparency and openness, and to hold government more accountable. We’re going to have to begin a serious conversation to get spending under control and there should be no program that is exempt from scrutiny. If a program is not working, your tax dollars should no longer pay for it.

I intend to ask two questions for every piece of legislation I consider: how much will it cost and who is going to pay for it. If the answers to those questions aren’t satisfactory, I will vote against the legislation. You didn’t elect me to increase our debt or continue running up unsustainable deficits. You didn’t elect me to kick the can down the road, as previous Congresses have done when hard decisions had to be made. And you didn’t elect me to go along with the status quo that has put our economy on the wrong track. The last two Congresses have increased our national debt by $5.34 trillion – that’s about $3 billion per day. We have to get our fiscal house in order.

I recently voted to cut the operating budgets of the U.S. House of Representatives by 5 percent, which is expected to result in a savings of about $35 million. Since 2008, U.S. House office budgets have gone up by 14 percent, and cutting our budgets is a first step toward showing you that we’re serious about changing the tax-and-spend culture that’s run rampant in Washington for too long.
In the coming weeks and months, I will hold a series of townhall meetings throughout the 6th Congressional District. I hope you will join me so we can discuss the steps necessary to hold government more accountable and halt the disturbing intrusion of government into our lives. I look forward to hearing from you.