Friday, February 11, 2011

GUEST COLUMN: "Smart Fiscal Policies Today Will Benefit Us Tomorrow" by Rep. Bill Johnson

Rep. Bill Johnson (R, OH-06)
By Congressman Bill Johnson
One of the themes that’s emerged from the townhall meetings I hosted in eastern and southeastern Ohio recently is that people are tired of unchecked government bureaucrats and irresponsible fiscal policies that threaten our financial health. We had substantive discussions in Columbiana, Washington and Lawrence counties, and I look forward to our next series of townhall meetings.
During those meetings, I gave attendees an update of some of the financial-based legislation I’m working to advance, and I want you to know about it as well.
First, I’m proud to be co-sponsor of the Balanced Budget Act that would require the federal government to balance its budget every year – and force the government to live within its means.
The concept behind the Balanced Budget Act is one that every working family and small business owner understands: it says Congress cannot spend more than it receives in revenue. And since Congress has shown a frightening propensity for finding loopholes, the Balanced Budget Act would require a constitutional amendment that would guarantee that the budget really is balanced. We should only seek to amend our Constitution as a last resort, and I believe that our skyrocketing debt and deficit will very soon create a fiscal crisis. If the federal government continues ignoring fiscal responsibility, then we have no choice but to enact an iron-clad constitutional amendment putting an end to this reckless behavior.
And, along similar lines, we’ve waited long enough for the federal government to stop raiding the Social Security Trust Fund for spending binges. So I’m co-sponsoring legislation that will stop this once and for all. Our seniors and those nearing retirement have faithfully paid into Social Security all their working lives, and they rightly expect that money to be available to them. The Social Security Preservation Act will protect this program for those currently receiving benefits, those nearing retirement and those already planning for retirement.
There’s no question that Social Security needs reforms – significant reforms that will strengthen it and ensure its viability for future generations. Unfortunately, the knee-jerk reaction of some who hear “reforms” and “Social Security” is to prey on the fears of seniors and others who depend on the program. So there is no confusion, I want to make my position on Social Security very clear.
Seniors and those currently receiving benefits must continue receiving those benefits with no interruption, no decrease and appropriate cost-of-living increases.
Those nearing retirement must have confidence that the money they’ve paid into the program will be available to them.
And reforms to strengthen the program for future generations must be done responsibly so continued spending doesn’t bankrupt America.
I know many people have differing and strong opinions about Social Security.  Some want to blindly pretend that all is well and there will always be enough money to pay out all obligations of the fund.  Those people are wrong.  We must take corrective action to protect Social Security long-term.
Others want to privatize Social Security.  They want to take all of the money from government hands and force every account into Wall Street investments.  Those people are wrong, too.  Money paid into Social Security by current retirees and those approaching retirement should never be put at risk like that.  And people who are just starting out should have more choices and more control over their own retirement dollars but they should never be forced to put their accounts into riskier investments.  
As we go forward in the 112th Congress, I look forward to supporting legislation that will put an end to unelected government regulators and bureaucrats making arbitrary decisions that imperil jobs and stop politicians from running amok with taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars.
Congressman Bill Johnson represents Ohio’s 6th Congressional District, which encompasses all or parts of 12 counties in eastern and southeastern Ohio.