Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA07) hosted a telephone town hall meeting on March 22 to gather citizen input regarding upcoming budget negotiations.
Woodall is – the committee responsible for writing Congress’ overall budget plan for the fiscal year.
Though negotiations for the 2012 fiscal year should be underway, Woodall said Congress is still mired down in its attempt to resolve last year’s budget which runs through September of this year.
“That’s a bill that should’ve been passed last year,” Woodall said. Instead, Congress is using a series of continuing resolutions to fund discretionary government spending through the end of the fiscal year.
Woodall said another pressing issue is the debt limit or the statutory cap on what the government is allowed to borrow. Woodall expects government borrowing to hit that statutory limit sometime between early April and early June.
“It has absolutely nothing to do with decisions in this Congress about how to spend going forward, it’s just the credit card that has been run up in past Congresses,” Woodall said.
Even more critical, Woodall said, is the 10-year budget.
“It’s the number that matters most. It’s the biggest number we deal with,” he explained.
In February, President Obama introduced his 10-year budget. Congress is preparing to introduce its 10-year budget in April. Woodall said the President’s budget adds another $7 trillion to the existing $14 trillion debt over the next 10 years. Under the President's plan, the tax revenues would increase to 22 percent of the gross domestic product as opposed to the traditional 18 percent. Currently, taxes are at a historically low level of 14 percent of the GDP, Woodall added.
“ in his budget,” Woodall said. “He also has a big spending component.”
Woodall said the President has failed to tackle the issue of mandatory spending - which accounts for 60 percent of the entire budget. Mandatory spending includes entitlement spending such as Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.
Woodall said the budget committee is currently working on an alternative to the President’s budget proposal, but expressed doubts the budget can be balanced within the next 10 years.
“I don’t know if we’re going to be able to do it,” he said. “It’s going to depend on the American people and how much shared pain and sacrifice folks are willing to get involved in.”
Woodall said protecting the current entitlement levels for people over age 55 causes difficulties, but conceded it is important to keep the promises made to retirees. However, unless those entitlements are also subjected to review, Woodall said, it becomes increasingly difficult to cut costs because only discretionary spending is left to be managed.
“We have been working and will continue to work in the budget committee each and every day to try to put together a proposal that will make you proud,” Woodall said. “It’s going to require a team effort to get this done. If there were easy decisions to be made, they would’ve been made already.”
Though the remaining decisions may be painful, Woodall said they will reap huge benefits for the economy in the future.
“I appreciate your willingness to engage on this and confront these issues,” he added.
FAIRTAX IN 2013?
In addition to a discussion of the budget, Woodall answered several constituent questions. One of the questions concerned the timeline for implementation of the FairTax, a cause Woodall has championed for years.
“Congress has incredibly strong support for the FairTax,” Woodall said, adding that he believes 2013 is a reasonable goal for passage of the FairTax.
“We are going to have more support in the House of Representatives than we have ever had,” he said. However, Woodall warned support from the White House will be required to pass the FairTax. He expects several Republican candidates will run on a FairTax platform in the next Presidential election.
“If we can make that happen, it’s 2013 that we can make the FairTax reality,” Woodall said.
During the hour-long meeting, Woodall also fielded questions on healthcare, energy policy, the environment and the Republican Party in general. An entire transcript of the call will be available at a later date according to his office.
Woodall’s Seventh District includes all of Barrow and Walton counties, most of Gwinnett County, and portions of Forsyth and Newton counties.Interested in a follow-up to this article?