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Our unsustainable fiscal trajectory is in large part attributable, of course, to autopilot, mandatory spending: Medicare, Social Security and an expanding Medicaid will not survive without reform. But for the three years Iíve had a vote, Democrats in the White House and the Senate have blocked any attempt to solve Washingtonís entitlement spending and debt addiction. Am I frustrated and disappointed? You bet.
Iím open to working with Obama, but Iím disappointed that he is not willing to get serious and address the structural fiscal issues everyone knows exist. I donít expect everyone to agree on exactly how to fix these problems, but we must all agree that the status quo is unacceptable. I remain hopeful the president will work with us to tackle these challenges before I leave Congress and before the next generation is forced to. But I am still waiting.
Despite what you may hear elsewhere, Republicans in the House have made historic progress getting discretionary spending under control. Under Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it increased to an all-time high. Since Republicans won control of the House in 2010, we have reduced discretionary spending by $165 billion. Now, under the Paul D. Ryan-Patty Murray agreement in fiscal 2014, discretionary spending ó which makes up approximately 32 percent of the federal budget ó will be $53 billion less than it was under Bush in fiscal 2008, adjusted for inflation. It will also be $27 billion less than the amount Ryan, the House Budget chairman, proposed in his original budget and $46 billion less than the base discretionary level set by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Thatís something to tell your kids about.
There is still much that Congress can accomplish this year, and as I serve the remainder of my term, I am working just as hard as I did on my first day in office. Iím hopeful both parties can agree to a comprehensive overhaul of our bloated, needlessly complicated tax code. Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp continues to demonstrate bold leadership on the committee, and Iím excited about the tax reform legislation we are finalizing. Iíll continue fighting for a simpler, fairer and flatter tax system that broadens the base, encourages growth and helps create jobs. Itís a no-brainer, and if we want to compete, we must.
I have yet to decide what Iíll do professionally when I return to private life. I do know that I will continue serving as a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, which I joined 18 years ago this June. And I will still be heavily involved in the political process, just as I was in the decade before I filed as a candidate.
Down the road, when my children are a little older and my wife and I believe itís right for our family, I fully intend to seek public office again ó this is simply ďoperational pause,Ē as we say in the Army.