Working Hard to Advance Pro-Growth Economic Policies
Each year in April, millions of Americans file their federal income tax returns. This year's tax day will be the final year using the old, broken system. Because of the recently-passed historic Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, next year will be the first year we can file under the modernized tax code. But already, Americans are feeling the benefits.
In addition to simplifying the tax filing process, the tax reform law has allowed more Americans to keep more of their hard-earned dollars. Businesses large and small are hiring more workers, increasing wages and offering other benefits to employees. The average American family will get to keep more than $2,000 this year under our tax law. In addition to lowering the rates for every income bracket, this law doubles the standard deduction, doubles the child tax credit and repeals Obamacare's individual mandate which imposed an unfair tax on families making less than $50,000 a year. All of this will help to grow a healthy, American economy.
Congress and the administration are working hard to advance pro-growth economic policies. In addition to the historic Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, this includes rolling back thousands of unnecessary, burdensome regulations that were stifling economic growth. However, as South Dakotans have heard me say time and again, we must also focus on changing our budget process and getting our debt under control if we want to have a healthy economy in the long-term.
We know that the budget process Congress has in place today is not working. Instead of thoughtfully debating how to fund federal programs and agencies each year, Congress has resorted to passing short-term spending bills that often lack any policy changes and continue to fund the government at the same levels as the year before. It is not a sustainable way to do business.
The long-term driver of our federal debt and deficit remains the rapid, unchecked growth of mandatory payments, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Already, spending on these mandatory payments, as well as interest on our debt, account for 70 percent of all federal spending. And, according to the latest budget outlook, this level is expected to rise to nearly 80 percent within the next ten years.
Since the passage of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, Congress has not exercised proper oversight of mandatory payment programs. There is no specific committee with oversight over the efficiency of these necessary expenditures. Instead, Congress has focused on defense and non-defense discretionary spending, which makes up just over a quarter of our entire budget today.
If Congress can change the way it manages the budget to include proper oversight of mandatory payments, we can begin to get our spending under control. This does not necessarily mean cutting important programs--it means actively managing them to make them sustainable for generations to come.
I'm working with a number of my colleagues in the Senate toward fixing our budget process so we can finally address our budget crisis once and for all. We have made significant gains in growing our economy over the last year, and getting our debt under control is an important part of achieving long-term economic success.