Charlie Bass, where have you been?

By Jennifer Horn  (as written for publication in the Union Leader OP-ED section)

Suddenly Charlie Bass is sounding the alarm against the out-of-control spending of Congress. But every voter in New Hampshire has the right to question his abrupt conversion to fiscal conservatism. Charlie Bass had a bad deficit-spending habit of his own. In 2006, Charlie Bass was a member of the Congress that spent $247.7 billion more than we had. The figure was $318.7 billion in 2005, and $413 billion in 2004. He voted for the federal budget in each of those years.

If Washington's spending problem was new to this Congress, it might be a different story, but it is not. The establishment attitude that "our spending was bad, but not as bad as their spending" will not solve the problems our nation faces, and it will not protect us from one day finding ourselves facing the same type of economic collapse that we see in Greece.

It should be no surprise that the first idea career politicians like Charlie Bass offer on how to fix the problem is to create a new government committee to evaluate a government-made problem. This pass-the-buck approach has been a favorite among Washington insiders for decades. It allows our elected representatives to blame someone else when their job doesn't get done.

Under our Constitution, all federal spending begins in the U.S. House of Representatives. The House controls the purse strings, and it is the responsibility of every single member to tighten them. In times of crisis, politicians offer a review of "nonessential spending," as if they are doing us a favor.

It is time to hold our members of Congress accountable.

It is time to demand meaningful and lasting reforms that will rein in spending and restore integrity to government.

First, we must recognize that what is happening in Greece today is a direct result of an entitlement society that has gotten too big to sustain. Our entitlement programs are growing out of control, and our ability to fund them is diminishing every year.

According to the Heritage Foundation, entitlements will consume 100 percent of our tax revenues by 2052 (based on taxes being held at historical average). Entitlement reform is an immediate necessity. These programs were intended to supplement personal savings accounts, not become the primary income for a 20-year retirement. We need practical reforms that create new incentives to save and protect those who have been paying into the system for decades. But more than anything else, we need a Congress with the courage to take on what has been a political hot potato for  too long.

Next, we must have a balanced budget amendment and a constitutionally sound line-item veto. It is time to force Congress to think before it spends our hard-earned money. The days of voting to increase to the federal debt limit twice a year have got to end. Families and small business owners across New Hampshire must live within their means - it is time for Congress to do the same.

Sunset provisions will force Congress to revisit every federal expenditure on a regular basis and prevent them from indefinitely funding wasteful, ineffective programs.

We must completely eliminate the earmark process. It is inherently wasteful and corrupting, nothing more than a shady exchange using taxpayer dollars to buy favors and votes. According to The Washington Post, from 1994-2004 pork-barrel spending rose from $29.11 billion to $52.69 billion.

We need a completely transparent method for allotting funds that forces each request to meet stringent requirements of constitutionality and necessity.

The repeal of Obamacare, a corrupt and unconstitutional program, will immediately remove more than $1 trillion from the national debt. And ending congressional pensions permanently will both save us money and help end the "career" mentality in Congress.

Career politicians and Washington insiders cannot fix what they have broken; in fact, they are the problem. We don't need people who suggest you send them to Washington because of their experience at manipulating the system; we need people who are going to fix the system.

Some experience is just too expensive.