Since my first day in office, the House of Representatives has been debating ways to cut the federal government’s massive spending problem. I have voted repeatedly for bills that cut wasteful programs and unnecessary spending. Indeed, if all of the bills I have voted for were signed into law, we would have slashed several hundreds of billions in wasteful and unnecessary spending. And even that is just a start. This year our country is on track to make it the third straight year in which the nation borrows over $1 trillion. Our national debt is scheduled to exceed $14 trillion, which is almost the same size of the entire U.S. economy.
Everywhere I go in the District, people talk to me about their concerns about our economy, the reckless spending in Washington, and their serious concerns over our national deficit. The people in Arizona want the federal government to balance the budget and live within its means. We may not agree on how we balance our budget, but few people disagree that the path we are on as a nation is unsustainable. The president has said so. The Bipartisan Fiscal Commission has said so. The Federal
Reserve chairman has said so.
There is one budget cut that I voted for that I would like to take the time to address. It is one example of the problem — and the solution. Several people have reached out to me regarding the cuts to National Public Radio (NPR). Some individuals wanted to cut this portion of the budget, others did not. On two separate occasions, I voted to defund NPR. First, the House voted to defund NPR in H.R. 1, which passed on Feb. 19. A stand alone bill, H.R. 1076, was also passed on March 17. I supported both of these measures, but allow me the opportunity to explain why.
When discussing NPR it is important to take a look at my views on spending. My approach to discretionary government spending is simple. First, does the program serve a core governmental function such as defense, commerce, treaty obligations, or infrastructure? Second, is the program necessary? Third, can we afford it? Answering these questions requires us to discern between what we like, what we want, and what we have to do. That is why I voted to defund NPR: we can’t afford it, it does not serve a core governmental function and it is not necessary for taxpayers to fund this entertainment or news programming. The private sector is more than capable of this.
Public broadcasting has provided memorable and valuable programming. It has even achieved a certain level of commercial success through licensing activities of Sesame Street characters and sponsorships that have commercial-like qualities. But I part ways on the notion that public broadcasting is a public necessity. Ron Schiller, a now former employee of NPR, has said that NPR could survive, and in fact would be better off, without federal funds. I believe that at this time, NPR is better funded through private funds.
As discussed above, our country is burdened right now, with a deficit that threatens the very fabric of our country. We have a $1.5 trillion deficit this year alone. We have a national debt over $14 trillion. What we are doing is unsustainable and we risk our national security and the America that once was, if we do not reduce spending. That is not just my thinking. On May 14, 2009, President Barack Obama said that current deficit spending was “unsustainable,” that it would lead to high interest rates, inflation and severe economic harm. On June 9, 2010, according to the New York Times, “Mr. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, warned on Wednesday that ‘the federal budget appears to be on an unsustainable path.’” In addition, Admiral Mike Mullen said in June 2010 that the nation’s debt is the biggest threat to U.S. national security.
Each and every day I listen to my constituents and hear about the tough decisions they have to make. All too often people in my district have to make a choice between what they want and what they can afford. If Main Street has to make these choices, then the federal government should also do the same. That is why I voted to defund NPR.