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Keep your word. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Don’t spend more than you have. This is common sense for most people. But in Washington, D.C., these grade-school lessons are considered downright radical.
For decades, those of us in the real world have wondered why our political leaders won’t follow these simple rules. As our national debt rocketed past $5 trillion, $10 trillion, $15 trillion and beyond, we asked how the federal government got so out of control and what we can do to fix it before the U.S. economy goes Greek?
Whether the president had a “D” or an “R” after their name, the wave of red ink just continued to rise. But there was a brief moment in the ’90s when Congress actually forced a liberal president to sign the first balanced budget in a generation. One of the congressmen behind that effort is back to return common sense to the Beltway.
Rep. Matt Salmon was first elected in 1994 but stepped down in 2000 to honor his pledge not to serve more than three consecutive terms. Sensing Washington needed to relearn some basic arithmetic, Arizona voters sent Salmon back last year. As one of his constituents, I’m glad that Salmon is keeping his word.
In today’s Washington Times, Salmon served notice not only to the federal government at large, but also to the GOP House leadership specifically:
From this point forward, I will vote against the rule for bills that increase spending without offsetting spending cuts and encourage my other conservative colleagues to do the same. Similarly, if House leadership brings any more bills to the floor without first securing the support from the majority of the GOP conference, I will take the same action. If enough of my conservative colleagues in the House join me, we can unilaterally put an end to the growth of government that is moving us closer to Greece-like fiscal calamities.
This new “Salmon Rule” is a direct challenge to the go-along-to-get-along style often promoted by the GOP leadership. Not only will he hold the line on fiscal sanity, Salmon also will contest the stealth growth of government seen most recently in the fiscal cliff tax hikes and the pork-saturated Sandy relief bill. In those cases, House leadership brought legislation to the floor without support from the majority of GOP members.
Why would a Republican congressman go against the wishes of his own leadership — especially in such a public way? “Because my allegiance will always be to the Constitution and the American people first and foremost,” Salmon says, “not to my political party.”
Principle. What a concept.
Follow Jon on Twitter at @ExJon.