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Don’t forget the election; Prioritize fiscal responsibility

BY GUEST OPINION | JANUARY 19, 2011 7:10 AM

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Quick recap: Back in November, America made a statement at the polls. Nationally, Republicans gained six seats in the Senate and picked up a remarkable 63 seats in the House of Representatives.

Here in Iowa, Gov. Terry Branstad moved back into Terrace Hill, and he will have a strong majority in the State House. The Senate will be more flexible.

Americans and Iowans spoke loud and clear, and they voted for results, not just for Republicans. They voted to hold our representatives accountable.

Now the session begins, and we will find out if government officials will honor their November promises.

So here’s a Republican “wish list” for the 84th Iowa General Assembly and the 112th United States Congress; priorities are different on the local and national levels, but the principles can be exactly the same.

It’s simple: Rein in spending. Any 16-year-old with their first job knows that people can only spend as much as they take in. Inexplicably, this logic does not apply to the government. The 111th U.S. Congress, under the guidance of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, added more debt to the U.S. Treasury than the first 100 Congresses combined. Students now leave college burdened not only by student loans but also by the almost $45,000 that constitutes every American’s stake in the national debt.

Many in Congress say it is not possible to pay back our debt. Many say that the pork-barrel spending is insignificant compared with the entire budget’s size. In my opinion, they are not trying hard enough. Americans have had to make the tough decisions for years, and now is the time for our elected leaders to do the same. In rough economic times, we must repudiate excess.

Here in Iowa, the federal government offered hundreds of millions of dollars to construct a high-speed passenger rail line from Chicago to Iowa City. After the initial cost, the states are expected to put up the rest of the operating costs. The rail transportation would take longer than flying, driving, or riding a bus, and it is more expensive than traveling by car and bus. This investment would be a waste of time and money; its elimination is a simple cut, especially during economic downturn.

This past week, the Iowa House Appropriations Committee passed the Taxpayers First Act, which aims to save Iowans $500 million over three years. The bill accomplishes many of the promises Republicans made along the campaign trail and makes some tough decisions in order to restore fiscal responsibility.

Items incorporated in the bill include the creation of a Tax Relief Fund to return any positive balance to the taxpayers, elimination of sabbaticals at the state Board of Regents’ universities for 18 months, reductions in state spending on office supplies, and a requirement that all state employees pay a premium for their health coverage. These kinds of sacrifices must to be made to compensate for the budget shortfall.

November was months ago. The Tea Party is not yelling as loudly, the political commercials have ended (thank God), and everything could settle back to politics as usual. We cannot succumb to the inertia of runaway spending. We must stand up and remember November, making the tough sacrifices necessary to insure the financial security of our state and our nation.

Natalie Ginty is the chairwoman of the UI College Republicans.


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