By Kevin Meade
Mayor, City of Canton, Ill.
It is very unusual to see “common sense” and “Congress” in the same sentence. Yet, the announcement from freshman Congresswoman Cheri Bustos might just be exactly that. In introducing her first bill, she has taken a step to bring rational thought to reduce the budget deficit.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report in 2011 outlining $200-$300 billion in savings that could be achieved by simply eliminating services duplicated within the federal government. Despite the recent election where all candidates were discussing the budget problems, this report seemed to fall on deaf ears. However, Congresswoman Bustos made the report a part of her campaign.
After only 34 days in office, Bustos has introduced her first bill, The Government Waste Reduction Act. This legislation should appeal to both Democrats and Republicans because no programs will be eliminated by implementing recommendations from this GAO report; it simply cuts the waste out of these programs by combining those that already do the same thing. It would send a great message to the country if both parties could agree to cut the budget by starting with eliminating duplication.
As a mayor, I can tell you that common-sense spending is how my community, and many others like it, has been operating year after year. Cities can’t borrow money like Springfield, Ill., or print money like Washington, D.C. Instead, we have to balance our budgets each year and make tough choices. We reach out to our other government partners, such as the county and neighboring towns, and find ways we can combine our efforts to save the taxpayers money. It has nothing to do with partisan politics, rather our common-sense efforts to stretch taxpayers’ dollars and eliminate duplication.
Congresswoman Bustos has done some good things to begin her Congressional service. For example, she reached out to all incoming freshmen from both parties in an effort to promote cooperation instead of gridlock. Freshmen typically have little influence in Congress and time in office tends to harden them into partisans. Let’s hope that this will be the beginning of a new era of common sense in Congress.
While I understand that making changes is difficult in Washington, I know it will never happen if someone does not reach out to both parties and start proposing reasonable solutions. Cheri Bustos is trying and should be congratulated on not accepting business as usual. Let’s hope that others in Congress will follow her lead, even if she is just a freshman!
Kevin Meade is the non-partisan mayor of the City of Canton, Ill. Canton is within Bustos’ 17th Congressional District, which also includes portions of Rockford.
Posted Feb. 20, 2013