Doc Hastings Dilemma in DC

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A dilemma in D.C.Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013 9:00 am

What is it like to live in a consequence free environment?

Having no deadlines and commitments might work for some. But it’s not practical for those of us trying to hold down jobs.

It appears some of our federal legislators in Washington, D.C. (and President Obama) aren’t overly concerned with completing their respective budgets on time. We are asking both houses and the president to work together and get the job done.

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., visited with the Columbia Basin Herald’s Editorial Board and shared his take on the issue of the unsustainable federal budget.

He said legislators have to address the entitlement issue, or how federal dollars are spent on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The programs are termed “autopilot spending” by the Congressional Budget Office and not subject to the checks and balances of discretionary spending programs.

Entitlement programs make up about 60 percent of the budget, according to 2010 figures. Hastings said the programs used to comprise between 10 and 20 percent of the budget in 1960.

If spending isn’t addressed sooner or later, the younger generation is paying the tab, he explains.He expects the House to pass its budget later this month or in March. April 1 is the budget deadline for both houses. The president has already announced he is missing this year’s deadline.

Hastings said the House passed a budget during the past two years that cut spending and pays off national debt in a decade. He claims the Senate hasn’t passed a budget in four years and the national debt increased by 50 percent to more than $16 trillion.

The Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Connecticut has taken center stage in Washington, D.C. As a result, Hastings said there is “absolutely no movement from the president on what we should do.”

Some of our readers weighed in online with their own suggestions on cutting the budget.Their ideas include: drug test welfare recipients, cut welfare spending significantly, abolish the U.S. Department of Education and Federal Reserve Board, pay legislators the salary of their last non-government job, stop the failing war on drugs, stop sending money overseas, bring home all troops, pay legislators $10 per hour, fire all legislators and cut all spending across the board by 5 percent annually.

Our message to Sen. Patty Murray and Sen. Maria Cantwell is this: Help lead the way in the budget passage. We expect you to play a key role in getting the Senate to pass the budget. Your voters are counting on you.

– Editorial Board