Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, asked for our input in her May 30 letter. If she is really serious about reducing the deficit rather than just participating in more political grandstanding like the recent vote on the debt limit, here are my suggestions.
The major reasons a surplus in January 2001 turned into a deficit during the Bush administration are: (1) tax cuts passed in spring 2001, (2) unfunded invasion of Afghanistan in fall 2001, (3) unfunded invasion of Iraq in spring 2003, (4) unfunded Medicare drug benefit passed in 2005.
The tax cuts reduced revenue. The unfunded measures went straight to the deficit.
First, rescind the Bush tax cuts. They will expire in December 2012, but Herrera Beutler can get a running start by rescinding them in the 2012 budget.
Second, get on board with the health care reform act, which fixes the unfunded drug benefit and includes many other cost-containment measures for Medicare. These measures are a big reason why the Congressional Budget Office rating says the reform act will reduce the deficit over the next decade.
Containing military spending will require real work, not just mouthing platitudes like “is it in the Constitution?” I challenge Herrera Beutler to make a genuine effort in this area.