Sunday, November 23, 2014

JENKINS: President’s visit to Capitol Hill

By LYNN JENKINS, U.S. Representative | 3/15/2013

President Obama addressed the House Republican Conference Wednesday on Capitol Hill for the first time since early 2009. I appreciate hearing from the president this week, and I hope it means he is willing to change course, and finally get in the trenches with us for the first time in years on the tough issues that face this nation.

I was concerned, however, about some things I heard. The president said balancing the budget is not important, and instead wants to balance the budget “in principle.” The president wants to balance spending and revenue, but also claims our interest payments should not count as spending. That is a bizarre way of budgeting. Leaving interest on the debt untouched is like ignoring the interest on your credit card, and I regularly lecture my kids against doing this.

President Obama addressed the House Republican Conference Wednesday on Capitol Hill for the first time since early 2009. I appreciate hearing from the president this week, and I hope it means he is willing to change course, and finally get in the trenches with us for the first time in years on the tough issues that face this nation.

I was concerned, however, about some things I heard. The president said balancing the budget is not important, and instead wants to balance the budget “in principle.” The president wants to balance spending and revenue, but also claims our interest payments should not count as spending. That is a bizarre way of budgeting. Leaving interest on the debt untouched is like ignoring the interest on your credit card, and I regularly lecture my kids against doing this.

The next few weeks will prove whether this week’s visit was a sincere gesture — whether the president will work together with House Republicans to dig this country out of our fiscal mess or return to his campaign rhetoric. I hope it is sincere, and I hope we can find common ground because we owe that to the American people.

House Republicans submitted their budget proposal this week, and it will balance the budget in 10 years without raising taxes. It cuts wasteful spending, fixes our broken tax code to create jobs, strengthens Medicare and national security, and reforms welfare programs like Medicaid so they will be there for those who need them most. Conversely, Senate Democrats released a plan this week that, for the first time in nearly four years, fails to balance the budget, calls for nearly $1.5 trillion in new taxes, and another $100 billion in stimulus. We owe the American people balance, and in my opinion, any budget proposal that does not balance is not the balanced approach that both the Senate and the president have promised hardworking taxpayers.

Save the date for my coming listening session noon to 1 p.m. March 23 in Garnett. Visit my website for details.

U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., represents the Sunflower State in the U.S. Congress.

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