National leaders need to “begin a conversation” on spending cuts that go beyond what is typically thought of as discretionary spending.
That is the key thought directed by U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R), Clinton, to the Greater Easley Chamber of Commerce meeting Friday at Tri County Technical College , Easley Campus. Duncan was in the Third Congressional District for several days, traveling across his territory from Greenwood to Pickens and Oconee.
As a visual aid, Duncan open his IPad to the national debt clock, a running calculation of rising national debt. The clock was ticking at $16.022 trillion in deficit spending. A second calculation identified the individual American’s share f that debt a $51,000. He left the display ticking on the front table as he went through a description of how he believes the national legislative process derails attempts to get at that conversation on spending cuts.
H said he had hoped the conversation would come to a head when time ran out on the last federal budget and Congress instead passed a continuance resolution to keep the government running. “It has been 1,248 days since the Senate passed a budget,” Duncan said Friday.
Attempts to get the budget to a conference committee are derailed in a committee along the way. “I opposed an extension to the deficit ceiling,” Duncan said. “People looked at me like, ‘what do you mean.’
“Discretionary spending is about $1.6 trillion. If we did away with all of that, we don’t come close to fixing the problem.”
The solution, he believes, is not a revenue issue but a spending cut issue that will send a message to business investors as they see it of better times. They are dealing with uncertainty that prevents them from investing and hiring, Duncan said. “They face uncertainty in the marketplace,” he said. “They face tax policy uncertainty. The Affordable Care Act, Obamacare (mandated health care) leaves them wondering what health care coverage will cost them. If that is appealed, what steps into the void? They face regulatory uncertainty and litigation uncertainty.
He said that business growth will be the thing that returns the economy to fuller strength.
In a broader discussion of the issue after adjournment of the meeting before the chamber membership, Duncan said, the conversation needs to include Social Security, Medicare, defense spending, welfare, Food Stamps and housing subsidies.
Questioned about declining federal deficit numbers during President Bill Clinton’s Democratic Administration. Duncan believes that mechanism began Reagan and Bush administrations before him. “You won’t hear me criticising Bill Clinton on those things. The wave came to those years and he got credit for it. Then that was followed by recession and 9/11 and some other things.