The Arizona Republic recently ran a story suggesting Congress has lost the art of compromise. To make the point, they highlighted the recent votes in the House on the FARM Bill.
Claiming this bill was “a federal lifeline” for farmers and “families in need of help putting food on the table,” they pointed out that I didn’t “compromise” and voted against this measure.
The point was also made that a vote seemingly as uncontroversial as a farm bill, should not be a vote of principle but merely a difference of opinion on policy, and therefore something both sides could agree to pass.
We are in the midst of a spending crisis. Those of us committed to stopping out-of-control spending need to step up our game. As a conservative, I do not oppose excessive spending measures to be disagreeable. I simply recognize what many in Washington ignore — we can’t afford them.
Each and every one of these spending votes is, in fact, a matter of principle. It is morally wrong to continue to spend money we don’t have while racking up debts so great that our children will never begin to pay them off.
Excessive government spending has hurt our economy, created millions more in unemployment, and driven our national debt to dangerous levels. And that is not a matter of opinion, policy or lack of compromise. That’s reality.
Consider the food-stamp program.
It’s reality that in the 1970s, just one in 50 Americans received food stamps. That number is now one in seven.
It’s reality that taxpayers currently spend $80 billion a year on food stamps — a 62 percent increase from the last FARRM Bill.
It’s also reality that in the past five years our national debt has more than doubled to more than $17 trillion. Every high-school graduate owes $910,553, and every baby born this year owes $1,496,098.
Even though it was a huge win for taxpayers that the House split the food-stamp portion out of the farm bill, the farm portion was still riddled with waste and abuse.
Since the New Deal, Washington has been picking winners and losers in the agriculture industry through a combination of price controls, import restrictions, subsidies and cash payments. While this was initially a laudable goal, the farm bill today has become nothing more than corporate welfare — where, bizarrely, some farmers are even paid not to farm their land.
Some can claim it’s members like me, holding out for real and lasting spending reforms, that are standing in the way of “compromise.” If you use Washington’s definition of compromise, which seems to be spending more money than we have, then maybe you are right.
However, true compromise cannot be an excuse to keep spending away America’s future. Sadly, that’s where “compromise” has gotten us thus far.
I was elected on a platform of reducing the size and cost of government that have left us trillions in debt and threatened our economic prosperity.
I plan to continue doing just that. I promise to stand firm and unequivocally oppose legislation like the farm bill that continues the Washington tradition of out-of-control spending with money we don’t have.
Because with more than a $17 trillion national debt, the stakes are too high to abide by Washington’s definition of “compromise.”
U.S. Rep. David Schweikert is a Republican representing Arizona’s Sixth Congressional District.