Last week, the news churned out story after story about the "big deal" President Barack Obama says he is pursuing with congressional leadership. This week, a re-formed Senate "Gang of Six" dominates the headlines, trying to arrive at its own "big deal."
As Americans wait with bated breath for something to come out of these talks, I want to set the record straight and talk about the real "big deal." The real big deal is one that happened on the floor of the House when Congress passed the "Path to Prosperity" FY2012 budget plan earlier this year.
For years, Washington has spent taxpayer money with reckless abandon -- borrowing more when it runs out and failing to tell the American people how it is being spent. The American people have had enough, and back in November they sent that message to Washington with a new wave of congressional membership. This new Congress responded to Americans' calls by passing -- through an open process -- a budget that cuts borrowing, provides regulatory and tax reforms, and strengthens Medicare for today's and tomorrow's retirees.
While the White House is talking about $3 trillion in spending cuts and calling it "the big deal," the Path to Prosperity budget plan -- the only budget plan to pass in all of Congress all year long -- is bigger. The American people called for a more open and transparent Washington, not a discussion behind closed doors on Pennsylvania Avenue. Congress passed the budget through an open process, offering differing ideas and opinions. After considering many budget proposals from across the political spectrum, the only budget to win enough votes to pass the House was the Path to Prosperity, and it was a budget that was laid out line by line so that everyone could see what we were doing to achieve a new direction for America.
By passing the Path to Prosperity, the House of Representatives committed to $6 trillion in reduced borrowing and spending over the next 10 years to get this nation back on track -- and did so without cutting one penny from the benefits that senior citizens and veterans are receiving today.
With the debt limit vote on the horizon, many -- the president included -- are talking about how Social Security, Medicare and veterans' benefits may not get paid because of these debt talks. Nonsense. The House has passed a plan that not only bends the budget curve going forward, it does so while making sure our veterans and those 55 and older continue to get the benefits owed to them. The only thing standing between seniors and veterans and their benefits is the president.
Washington, D.C., is a tough town to predict, and the stories coming out of the White House change daily. There is a lot of talk -- but not a lot of putting your name, your detailed plan, and your vote out there where all can see and judge them. The House committed to a responsible budget plan by debating and passing the Path to Prosperity with 235 votes. We now wait for the president's plan or the Senate's plan.
The Senate has not passed a budget plan for the last 800 days. Mr. President, America cannot afford for you to wait that long. The House-passed budget plan makes sure our seniors and veterans get paid come Aug. 3. It's time to move forward and give Americans the certainty and confidence that they deserve.
U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, serves on the House Budget Committee and the House Rules Committee.