(Editor's note: The candidate is answering the question: "The nation's finances are in shambles and the national debt grows. Across the board cuts of 11 percent mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 threaten all areas of the budget, including defense spending. Would you pledge to make debt reduction your No. 1 priority? Can you offer 10 specific recommendations for tackling the nation's economic problems and avoiding sequestration?")
Doing the right thing takes guts.
Folks, we're $16 trillion in debt. We can't ignore the problem anymore. In the House, we've worked to change the conversation in Washington from "how much can we spend?" to "how much can we save?" We've come to the table, put forth common-sense ideas and now it's time for career politicians to set party aside and work together to get this done.
America received a wake-up call last year when our credit rating was downgraded. That had never happened before, and now our interest payments grow larger while our children and grandchildren are saddled with more debt.
With unsustainable trillion-dollar deficits and critical programs like Social Security and Medicare on the brink of insolvency, the clock is running out.
Talk is cheap, and I'm a big believer that politicians in Washington can't seriously tackle the debt issue unless they lead by example. That's why I rejected the congressional pension and introduced legislation to reform the pension system to save the taxpayers millions of dollars.
I also turned down the congressional health-care plan, voted to freeze my own pay, and supported an effort to reduce congressional salaries by 10 percent.
I cut my congressional office budget by more than 11 percent, and after that I returned $110,000 more to the taxpayer from my FY2011 budget.
As one of my first acts in Congress, I supported a House budget resolution that would cut $6.2 trillion from the budget over 10 years. This budget plan was designed to reduce spending, preserve critical social programs like Medicare, and pave the way for tax reforms that eliminate loopholes for special interests. Meanwhile, the Senate has not passed a budget for more than 1,200 days.
I supported a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution because it's time to end the era of trillion-dollar deficits. I've consistently voted to repeal the government health-care takeover because it does nothing to lower skyrocketing health-care costs, raids more than $700 billion from Medicare, adds trillions to the deficit, and will cost millions of jobs. We need real, bipartisan reforms that address the cost problem while increasing access to care.
I've fought to save Medicare. The program is set to go bankrupt in 2024 if we do nothing, yet my opponent and her allies want to bury their heads in the sand and promote scare tactics over solutions. I voted for a plan to preserve and protect Medicare for seniors and for future generations.
I've always thought that constituents tend to have better ideas than Washington bureaucrats, so it's very rewarding to take conversations I've had with some truly innovative people and turn their ideas into legislation.
One of these conversations became the Savings vs. Over Spending Act, a bill that incentivizes all branches of government to save money instead of spending down their budgets at the end of each fiscal year. This legislation gives government agencies a reason to save taxpayer money and spend in a more efficient manner.
My opponent has shown a complete inability to balance a budget and prioritize the needs of constituents. She voted repeatedly for tax increases and fee hikes on working families, while running up a million-dollar budget deficit. That's not leadership.
Leadership is about having the guts to make tough decisions. It's easy to vote for endless spending bills -- that's how Washington got us into this mess in the first place. We can't keep heading down that road. I will continue to make the needed, tough choices to get this country back on track as long as I represent this great district.
Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, represents Congress in the 17th District.
Today is Tuesday, Dec. 10, the 344th day of 2013. There are 21 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: We give "the government" the benefit of our circulation free of charge, for two advertisements for mules, horses and forage. 1888 -- 125 years ago: The official board of the First Methodist Church voted to build a new church. 1913 -- 100 years ago: W.A. Reid was elected commander of Siboney Bay Camp No. 8, United Spanish War Veterans. 1938 -- 75 years ago: Mrs. Blanche S. Osborne, of Rock Island, is the only woman in the city who is a member of the American Legion. 1963 -- 50 years ago: The Rocket Barbershop Chorus, under the direction of Howard Mesecher, will present a concert of barbershop songs at the December meeting of the Woman's Club of Moline at 2 Saturday afternoon in Scottish Rite Cathedral. 1988 -- 25 years ago: Helen A. Stone, of Moline, traded her organ's bench for a seat in the pew when she retired as church organist of Union Congregational Church, Moline, recently. She's been playing either piano or organ for the church for 61 years.