Claire believes the growing national debt is a huge danger to our children's future. If left unchecked, it will weaken the economy and give too much influence to foreign creditors. She thinks the federal government needs to eliminate wasteful spending and return to the sound fiscal practices that produced budget surpluses in the 1990s.
For years, the earmarking process has been notorious for its secrecy and lack of oversight or accountability, with funding for pet projects often being awarded based on political influence instead of on merit. Missourians deserve to know that their tax dollars are being spent wisely on initiatives serving the common good, not on lawmakers' or lobbyists' pet projects. Claire is proud to be one of only six members of the Senate who does not request any earmarks.
In an effort to reform the process, Claire has been fighting to make federal spending competitive and merit-based and create a fair and consistent process for funding federal projects. She has introduced amendments to spending bills to require programs that are heavily earmarked to undergo a competitive bidding process. She has introduced a bill (S.RES.63) that would help the public track earmarks that lawmakers request, and she joined with Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) to introduce the Fiscal Discipline, Earmark Reform, and Accountability Act (S.162), which would make it easier to remove earmarks from spending bills.
There is always more that can be done to make government spending more transparent, fair and honest, and Claire is committed to making the system work better for Missourians. She continues to look for any opportunity to end the current earmarking system, which remains susceptible to waste and abuse, due to in part of the limited transparency in the process.
Spending Restraint and Deficit Reduction
Claire is concerned about the size of the federal budget and thinks we need to stop rapid spending growth. She routinely votes to freeze spending and supports efforts to reduce waste, fraud and abuse that lead to wasteful spending of tax dollars in inefficient programs. She has repeatedly voted against appropriations bills that spend too much or contain too many earmarks. For instance, she voted against the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act (H.R.1105), because of it increased spending by 8 percent and included more than 8,000 earmarks.
However, she recognizes it is difficult to make a real impact on the deficit by focusing solely on non-defense discretionary spending. Such spending makes up less than 20 percent of the federal budget and funds many important priorities, such as roads and education. Addressing the debt will require comprehensive reform, including discretionary spending, entitlement spending and defense spending.
With this in mind, Claire has advocated for the creation of a "Fiscal Task Force" to review the long-term fiscal imbalances facing the country. Congressionally-appointed members would review all the factors that cause federal spending to exceed federal tax revenue. The commission would then make legislative recommendations to Congress, which could be either accepted or rejected, but not amended. Claire believes such a task force could facilitate the hard choices Congress needs to make in order to put the federal government on a sustainable fiscal path.
Balancing the Budget
As a single working mother, Claire learned the value of the dollar and believes Congress needs to return to the common-sense budgeting principles so many Missouri families follow. She is working with colleagues to find real solutions to our long-term fiscal imbalances. For instance, she has introduced a bill (S.1600) that would write Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) rules into law. These would require Congress to pay for new spending initiatives and trigger automatic, across-the-board spending cuts if Congress increases direct spending or cuts taxes without offsetting the cost. Similar rules were in place during the 1990s, when we saw our first balanced budgets in decades, but were abandoned in 2002 to make way for tax cuts for the elite.
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