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U.S. Congressman Greg Walden, Oregon District 2

Dear KBC News,

I want you to think about the following number: $223,000,000,000.00.

That’s how much the federal government overspent in February alone: $223 billion over budget in just 28 days. That’s a big number. Let’s try to put that in perspective:

  • $7.9 billion overspent each day
  • $331.8 million overspent each hour
  • $5.5 million overspent each minute
  • $92,179 overspent each second

It also marks the 29th month in a row in the red, a record. The federal government hasn’t had a surplus in any month since September of 2008.

The deficit last month is four times larger than the reduction in spending Republicans in the House approved a couple weeks ago and 30 times the size Democrats in the Senate are suggesting.

Even if Congress sent to the President the $61 billion in cuts we approved in the House, the amount is less than the rounding error between OMB and CBO as they estimate this year’s deficit. We have got to stop spending money we don't have.

There will be very difficult but necessary decisions to make to get spending under control. I don’t say it to be overly dour, but it’s just the reality of the situation that we’re in. Nobody ever comes into my office and says “cut my budget.” But when you’re borrowing 40 cents on the dollar (and more like 66 cents in February!), it means you’ve developed some bad habits that are going to be painful to break.

But break them we must. Every family and business in America has to work within a budget, and the federal government is no different.

Déjà vu all over again on gas prices

Once again, gas prices are creeping ever higher, even before the busy spring and summer travel seasons begin. Gas prices go up when the margins between total consumption and excess supply shrink. Under normal conditions, those margins are so thin that it doesn’t take much to jolt the markets. Cue the unrest in Libya and their disruptions in energy production, and prices go up.

It’s a cycle that seems to repeat itself every few years. To be sure, part of the solution is smarter consumption of energy to soften demand. But an increase in supply must be pursued if we are going to have the kind of affordable energy necessary to help pull us out of the economic slump.

So, House Republicans yesterday unveiled the American Energy Initiative, a new ongoing initiative to:

  • Stop government policies that are driving up gas prices
  • Expand American energy production to lower costs & create more jobs 
  • Promote an ‘all of the above’ strategy to increase all forms of American energy

The initiative follows up on Republicans’ Pledge to America commitment to “increase access to domestic energy sources and oppose attempts to impose a national ‘cap and trade’ energy tax.”

For far too long we have been reliant on foreign sources of oil from regimes that, frankly, don’t like us all that much. Yet we continue to punt on formulating a coherent national energy policy that promotes energy independence through using smarter sources of energy and increased domestic energy production.

As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I look forward to pursuing these commonsense policies for a smarter energy future. And I hope President Obama will join us in working toward that worthy goal. Unfortunately, since taking office, the administration has taken numerous steps to block American energy production. Here’s a list of just what’s happened in 2011. Click hereto view the entire list.


January 14th Revoked an already issued permit for a West Virginia coal mine, costing 250 American jobs.
February 2nd Continued to impose a de facto moratorium on drilling, Federal Judge finds the Interior Department in contempt of court.
February 14th Released the FY 2012 budget proposal that includes over $60 billion in direct tax and fee increases on American energy production.
February 15th Announced further delays to U.S. oil shale production by deciding to re-review the current rules for commercial oil shale leasing.
February 28th Issued a token deepwater permit, over four months after the moratorium was officially lifted. Did not say when future permits would be issued, thereby continuing the de facto moratorium and leaving thousands of Americans out of work.
March 4th Filed an appeal to a Federal Court ruling that ordered the Administration to act on stalled deepwater permits.



The #3 in the House comes to Oregon

Last week I brought Congressman Kevin McCarthy out to Oregon for a quick tour of central and southern Oregon. Rep. McCarthy is the House Majority Whip, which makes him the third most powerful member of the House of Representatives.

Like me, he too was a small business owner. We visited Carlson Sign Company in Bend to meet with local economic and civic leaders to talk directly to small business folks about what’s working and what’s not.

Together as members of the House leadership, we’ve been hard at work making the difficult but necessary decisions to get spending under control. It's time for government to tighten its belt and balance its budget, just like families do every month.

You can read a little more about Rep. McCarthy’s visit here.

New Region 6 Forest Supervisor

I had the chance to meet the new Region 6 Forest Service Supervisor Kent Connaughton in the nation’s capital yesterday. We discussed various issues important to the Northwest and especially in our Second District, from forest management and creating work in the woods, to county timber payments and mining permitting issues, like those raised to me in my recent town hall in Baker County.

I also explained to Supervisor Connaughton the importance of Region 6 and Forest Service headquarters making it a priority to increase their on-the-ground monitoring of grazing allotments in the Malheur National Forests and across other Forest Service lands in eastern Oregon where lawsuits and a court decision have threatened ranchers’ ability to graze their cattle this summer. The increased monitoring will give the Forest Service better data to defend its case in court, hopefully reducing the duration of lawsuits and the negative effects on ranchers.

Oregonians in the nation’s capital

Oregonians from all over the Second District passed through the office in Washington, D.C. this week, including folks from Warm Springs, Umatilla, Hermiston, Klamath Falls, Hood River, Baker City, John Day, Bend, White City, Sisters, and Redmond.

I met with Merle Jackson of Redmond VFW Post 4108, who was in the nation’s capital for the VFW’s national convention to identify key areas of concern for veterans and national security issues. Merle is also a member of the VFW National Legislative Committee.

I certainly appreciate the valuable guidance from Merle and the VFW on how we can do a better job taking care of our fighting men and women both while they’re on active duty and when they have transitioned back into civilian life. It’s their very least we can do for our heroes.

That’s all for now. Have a great weekend. 

Best regards,
Greg Walden

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              Page Updated: Saturday March 12, 2011 03:41 AM  Pacific

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