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OPINION: We cannot borrow and spend way to prosperity

WASHINGTON, D.C. — I have had the pleasure of representing the Third Congressional District over the past two months. I would like to share with you the challenges we face as a nation and what I believe are strong, conservative solutions to getting our economy back on track.

As I have traveled around the state, I have been inspired by the resiliency of hard-working Mississippians. Each day, they are making tough sacrifices to help weather this economic storm, as families are tightening their belts and small businesses are cutting expenses. There is a great deal of wisdom in how the people across Mississippi and America have responded; wisdom that unfortunately is in short supply in Washington.

With only two legislative acts, instead of reducing spending, Democrats in Congress have accumulated more debt than our country did during the first two-hundred years of our Republic. This federal spending spree began one month ago with $1 trillion for the so-called stimulus — which only stimulates more government programs (33 new federal programs are created) and more debt. Next, House Democrats pushed through a $410-billion spending bill to fund federal government for the next seven months.

The common sense answer is to allow taxpayers to keep more of their hard earned money. I supported an alternative plan that would have created double the number of jobs at half the cost. However, this plan was defeated on the House floor. Congress could have also chosen to freeze all new federal spending instead of passing an almost half-trillion-dollar bill to fund seven months of government, which increases spending more than eight percent over 2008 funding levels.

These reasonable proposals are supported by people in Mississippi and across America, but have been rejected by the Democrat leaders in the U.S. House. This is not the change voters asked for last November.

Recently, the President submitted his first budget to Congress. Instead of following his own call for fiscal discipline, the President’s budget raises taxes on almost every American and small business through programs such as “cap and trade,” which we should call what it really is: “cap and tax.”

By taxing utility providers for their carbon emissions, costs would inevitably be passed on to consumers in the forms on higher rates. The Wall Street Journal editorial board said, “The greatest inequities are geographical and would be imposed on the parts of the U.S. that rely most on manufacturing of fossil fuels — particularly coal, which generates most power in the Midwest, Southern and Plains states.”

The proposal would capture emissions, such as carbon dioxide and other gasses, and force companies to purchase credits from other companies who use less energy to meet government set emissions requirements. The Administration’s budget expects to raise $646 billion in “climate revenue” by 2020. That is $646 billion in new taxes imposed on coal, oil and natural gas, which currently provides 85 percent of America’s energy.

Families and businesses throughout Mississippi are struggling through these economic challenges. Mississippians know we cannot borrow and spend our way back to prosperity. We also know the answer is not raising taxes during an economic downturn. The President’s budget borrows too much, spends too much and takes too much of your hard-earned tax dollars.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve in Congress. Now is the time for Washington to return to common sense, conservative, fiscal discipline.

U.S. Congressmen Gregg Harper of Mississippi’s Third District contributed this op-ed column for the Mississippi Business Journal. For a public official or newsmaker to contribute an op-ed column, contact MBJ Managing Editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1807.

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