Federal Government Continues Lack of Common Sense
Thanks to the Wyoming Livestock Roundup for the opportunity to share an update on what has been going on in Washington, D.C. and what I’ve been working on for the folks in Wyoming. The common sense that seems so readily available to us in Wyoming is glaringly absent in Washington, D.C., especially as we try and address such pressing issues. If you have ideas for how to bring some Wyoming common sense to Washington, let me know. You can share your ideas with me through email, Facebook, Twitter or calling any one of my offices.
Shutdown and debt
The shutdown of the federal government was unnecessary. Our state as a whole was affected, and it could have, and should have, been avoided. What we’ve seen over the past five years is this reliance on governing by crisis and punting the tough decisions down the road just a few months. America deserves better. Wyoming expects better.
When the House and Senate voted to reopen the government, they authorized the president to spend another $1 trillion we have to borrow from other countries without addressing the $17 trillion elephant in the room – our national debt. The debt isn’t as tangible to folks as a government shutdown, but the shutdown is only a symptom. I sit up nights worrying about our nation’s debt and how it will affect Wyoming children, my children and grandchildren. It took more than 200 years for our debt per person to reach about $30,000. Since 2009, it’s gone up to more than $50,000 per person. That is frightening.
I have three bills I’m working on right now to address this.
First is my Penny Plan, which would cut one percent from total federal spending for two years, resulting in a balanced budget.
Second is a biannual budgeting plan that would force Congress to budget for two years and dig into the details of how we are spending money.
Third is a bill with Senator Portman (R-Ohio) that would prevent government shutdowns in the future by ending the culture of short-term fixes. Our bill would impose one percent cuts to any of the 12 appropriation bills not passed by the Sept. 30 deadline. This would offer lawmakers incentive to not wait until the last minute. Additionally, for every 90 days Congress doesn’t pass the spending bill, another one percent is cut.
Agriculture is the bedrock of many Wyoming communities and plays a vital role in supporting our nation’s rural economies. We need an agricultural policy in place that allows our farmers and ranchers to plan for the future.
The Farm Bill is currently in conference committee, where the differences between the House and Senate bills are being negotiated. There is a lot of work to do, but I hope both the House and Senate can produce a fiscally responsible, market-oriented Farm Bill.
Unfortunately, I could not support the Farm Bill that the Senate passed earlier this year. It didn’t go far enough in eliminating target prices for certain agriculture products and didn’t eliminate the waste in the food stamp program. When the Senate negotiated this bill last year, we were able to end all direct subsidies to farmers and move toward a more efficient federal crop insurance program. These are important changes that our agriculture policy needs and I hope we are able to see them in a final bill. I’m also hopeful that it will include measures that focus on brucellosis eradication and promote competitive markets for U.S. agricultural products.
These are just some of the policies I’ve been fighting for on behalf of the Wyoming agriculture community and will continue to work towards sensible solutions that reflect your input and our values.
Many of our friends and neighbors in the livestock industry suffered devastating losses during the recent blizzard that hit parts of Wyoming and western South Dakota. These losses remind us of the continued need to ensure agricultural producers have options when it comes to managing risk to their operations.
Livestock producers are at particular risk because there are still relatively few affordable options available for ranchers to purchase insurance for natural hazards like blizzards or losses resulting from wildfire. That is why I have continued my bipartisan efforts to get a permanent livestock disaster assistance program included in the Farm Bill.
It’s time the federal government budgets for disasters just as families have to budget for emergencies. In the past, Congress has relied on ad hoc disaster bills, which get charged directly to our deficit.
Federal agencies cannot regulate what Congress has refused to legislate. However, this hasn’t kept the EPA from trying to stretch the Clean Water Act to regulate Wyoming waters nor has it prevented efforts by this administration to use the Clean Air Act to push its climate change agenda.
The Wyoming delegation remains vigilant over this administration’s attempts to regulate agriculture and drive up the cost of business for our farmers and ranchers. We have encouraged Wyoming stakeholders to comment on proposed rules, introduced resolutions of disapproval to strike down problematic federal regulations and proposed legislation to eliminate redundant regulation.
Senator Mike Enzi can be reached online at enzi.senate.gov. He also has offices located in Washington, D.C., Casper, Cheyenne, Cody, Gillette and Jackson. Feel free to contact Senator Enzi at any time with concerns.