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Sen. Tom Coburn: Promises on spending must be kept

by Chris Casteel Modified: September 12, 2013 at 4:10 pm •  Published: September 12, 2013

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, says any bill to fund government departments must adhere to the spending limits set in the 2011 legislation that followed the crisis over raising the debt ceiling. That means more money could not be added to mitigate the effects of the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester.
Coburn is trying to round up support for a letter he wrote Thursday to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.

Here is Coburn’s letter:

September 12, 2013

Dear Speaker Boehner and Leader Reid,

Americans are fed up with Congress’ inability to keep its promises and control spending. Just two years ago, we committed to the taxpayers and each other to begin an era of fiscal restraint with passage of the Budget Control Act of 2011, and already efforts are underway to unravel that agreement.

As the only major bipartisan deficit reduction bargain in the last fifteen years, the Budget Control Act provided a ten year blue print to restrain federal spending, accepted in exchange for a $2 trillion increase in the national debt limit. The balanced compromise reduced both defense and non-defense spending, but for only two years. Under the bipartisan agreement, total discretionary spending in FY 2014 is capped at $967 billion. Most of this spending would still be financed with borrowed money as the deficit for the year is still projected to be $560 billion.

As you know, fiscal year 2014 is the last year discretionary spending will actually be reduced as a result of the Budget Control Act. After next year, the law allows discretionary spending to once again increase annually. Removing the spending restrains for 2014 would, therefore, make a mockery of the agreement to restrain spending because spending would have only be reduced for one year.

This is an all too familiar Washington narrative that explains why our national debt is nearly $17 trillion. Just today, the Congressional Budget Office revealed the initial House CR would exceed the current spending limits by $19 billion. Congress cannot break its commitment to restrain spending while expecting another debt limit increase to pay for its broken promises with even more borrowed money.

We reject the temptation of any short term political victory that paves the way for bigger debt, bigger borrowing, and bigger government. Therefore, we absolutely oppose any continuing resolution or appropriations legislation that would increase spending above the levels provided under the Budget Control Act. Furthermore, if Congress cannot keep its word to control spending as agreed to in the bipartisan Budget Control Act, we will not agree to additional increases in the debt limit. We do not need another bipartisan agreement to increase spending and borrowing.

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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