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Jason Chaffetz on Budget & Economy

2012 Senate Challenger; Republicam House member (UT-3)


No earmarks in any bills

Rep. CHAFFETZ: When you said in the House of Representatives that you were going to tackle earmarks--in fact, you didn't want to have any earmarks in any of your bills--I jumped up out of my seat and applauded you. But it didn't happen.

Pres. OBAMA: We didn't have earmarks in the Recovery Act. We didn't get a lot of credit for it, but there were no earmarks in that. I was confronted at the beginning of my term with an omnibus package that did have a lot of earmarks from Republicans and Democrats whe we had to make a whole bunch of emergency decisions about the economy. So what I said was let's keep them to a minimum, but I couldn't excise them all. I think all of us are willing to acknowledge that some earmarks are perfectly defensible, good projects; it's just they haven't gone through the regular appropriations process in the full light of day. So one place to start is to make sure that they are at least transparent, that everybody knows what's there before we move forward.

Source: Obama Q&A at 2010 House Republican retreat in Baltimore , Jan 29, 2010

Voted YES on prioritizing spending in case debt limit is reached.

Congressional Summary:Requires the Secretary of the Treasury, in addition to any other authority provided by law, to issue obligations to pay with legal tender, and solely for the purpose of paying, the principal and interest on U.S. obligations held by the public, or held by the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and Disability Insurance Trust Fund, in the event that the federal debt reaches the statutory limit after enactment of this Act. Prohibits the issued obligations from being taken into account in applying the current $16.394 trillion public debt limit to the extent that they would otherwise cause such limit to be exceeded.

Opponent's Argument for voting No:Rep. MAFFEI: The American people want us to work together--Republicans and Democrats--to reduce our debt, pay our bills, and avoid an economic catastrophe, which would result from default. This legislation presumes it will happen and maps out not if but what happens when the United States defaults. Their plan ensures that foreign creditors such as China, Japan, and OPEC countries Iran and Saudi Arabia would continue to get paid while we halt other payments to groups of Americans who have earned those benefits. This bill prioritizes Chinese lenders ahead of American seniors and veterans and college students. That's why it's called the Pay China First Act.

White House statement in opposition:American families do not get to choose which bills to pay and which ones not to pay, and the United States Congress cannot either without putting the nation into default for the first time in its history. This bill would threaten the full faith and credit of the United States, cost American jobs, hurt businesses of all sizes and do damage to the economy. It would cause the nation to default on payments for Medicare, veterans, national security and many other critical priorities. This legislation is unwise, unworkable, and unacceptably risky."

Reference: Full Faith and Credit Act; Bill H R 807 ; vote number 13-HV807 on May 9, 2013

Voted YES on terminating the Home Affordable mortgage Program.

Congressional Summary: Amends the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 to terminate providing new mortgage modification assistance under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), except with respect to existing obligations on behalf of homeowners already extended an offer to participate in the program.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Biggert, R-IL]: The HAMP Termination Act would put an end to the poster child for failed Federal foreclosure programs. The program has languished for 2 years, hurt hundreds of thousands of homeowners, and must come to an end. This bill would save $1.4 billion over 10 years. To date, the HAMP program has already consumed $840 million of the more than $30 billion of TARP funds that were set aside for the program. For this extraordinary investment, the administration predicted that 3 to 4 million homeowners would receive help. HAMP has hurt more homeowners than it has helped. The program has completed about 540,000 mortgage modifications. Another 740,000 unlucky homeowners had their modifications cancelled.

Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Capuano, D-MA]: This is a program that I'm the first to admit has not lived up to what our hopes were. This program we had hoped would help several million people. Thus far we've only helped about 550,000 people. But to simply repeal all of these programs is to walk away from individual homeowners, walk away from neighborhoods. I'm not going to defend every single aspect of this program, and I am happy to work with anyone to make it better, to help more people to keep their homes, & keep their families together. To simply walk away without offering an alternative means we don't care; this Congress doesn't care if you lose your home, period. Now, I understand if that makes me a bleeding-heart liberal according to some people, so be it.

Reference: The HAMP Termination Act; Bill H.839 ; vote number 11-HV198 on Mar 29, 2011

Voted NO on $192B additional anti-recession stimulus spending.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. LEWIS (D, GA-5): This bipartisan bill will provide the necessary funds to keep important transportation projects operating in States around the country. The Highway Trust Fund will run out of funding by September. We must act, and we must act now.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. CAMP (R, MI-4): [This interim spending is] needed because the Democrats' economic policy has resulted in record job loss, record deficits, and none of the job creation they promised. Democrats predicted unemployment would top out at 8% if the stimulus passed; instead, it's 9.5% and rising. In Michigan, it's above 15%. The Nation's public debt and unemployment, combined, has risen by a shocking 40% [because of] literally trillions of dollars in additional spending under the Democrats' stimulus, energy, and health plans.

We had a choice when it came to the stimulus last February. We could have chosen a better policy of stimulating private-sector growth creating twice the jobs at half the price. That was the Republican plan. Instead, Democrats insisted on their government focus plan, which has produced no jobs and a mountain of debt.

Reference: Omnibus Appropriations Act Amendment; Bill H.R. 3357 ; vote number 2009-H659 on Jul 29, 2009

Voted NO on modifying bankruptcy rules to avoid mortgage foreclosures.

Congressional Summary:Amends federal bankruptcy law to exclude debts secured by the debtor's principal residence that was either sold in foreclosure or surrendered to the creditor.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. PETER WELCH (D, VT-0): Citigroup supports this bill. Why? They're a huge lender. They understand that we have to stabilize home values in order to begin the recovery, and they need a tool to accomplish it. Mortgages that have been sliced and diced into 50 different sections make it impossible even for a mortgage company and a borrower to come together to resolve the problem that they share together.

Sen. DICK DURBIN (D, IL): 8.1 million homes face foreclosure in America today. Last year, I offered this amendment to change the bankruptcy law, and the banking community said: Totally unnecessary. In fact, the estimates were of only 2 million homes in foreclosure last year. America is facing a crisis.

Opponent's argument to vote No:

Sen. JON KYL (R, AZ): This amendment would allow bankruptcy judges to modify home mortgages by lowering the principal and interest rate on the loan or extending the term of the loan. The concept in the trade is known as cram-down. It would apply to all borrowers who are 60 days or more delinquent. Many experts believe the cram-down provision would result in higher interest rates for all home mortgages. We could end up exacerbating this situation for all the people who would want to refinance or to take out loans in the future.

Rep. MICHELE BACHMANN (R, MN-6): Of the foundational policies of American exceptionalism, the concepts that have inspired our great Nation are the sanctity of private contracts and upholding the rule of law. This cramdown bill crassly undercuts both of these pillars of American exceptionalism. Why would a lender make a 30-year loan if they fear the powers of the Federal Government will violate the very terms of that loan?

Reference: Helping Families Save Their Homes Act; Bill HR1106&S896 ; vote number 2009-H104 on Mar 5, 2009

Voted NO on additional $825 billion for economic recovery package.

Congressional Summary:Supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2009.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. DAVID OBEY (D, WI-7): This country is facing what most economists consider to be the most serious and the most dangerous economic situation in our lifetimes. This package today is an $825 billion package that does a variety of things to try to reinflate the economy:

  1. creating or saving at least 4 million jobs
  2. rebuilding our basic infrastructure
  3. providing for job retraining for those workers who need to learn new skills
  4. moving toward energy independence
  5. improving our healthcare system so all Americans can have access to quality treatment
  6. providing tax cuts to lessen the impact of this crisis on America's working families.

Opponent's argument to vote No:

Rep. JERRY LEWIS (R, CA-51): Most of us would agree that the recent $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is an illustration of how good intentions don't always deliver desired results. When Congress spends too much too quickly, it doesn't think through the details and oversight becomes more difficult. The lesson learned from TARP was this: we cannot manage what we do not measure. We cannot afford to make the same mistake again.

Sen. THAD COCHRAN (R, MS): We are giving the executive branch immense latitude in the disbursement of the spending this bill contains. We are doing so without any documentation of how this spending will stimulate the economy. Normally, this kind of information would be contained in an administration budget. For items that have a short-term stimulative effect, most of us will feel comfortable debating their merits as an emergency measure. But there is a great deal of spending that is not immediately stimulative.

Reference: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; Bill H.R.1 ; vote number 2009-H046 on Jan 28, 2009

Voted NO on monitoring TARP funds to ensure more mortgage relief.

Congressional Summary:Requires specified depository institutions under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to report periodically on their use of TARP assistance. Requires federal banking regulatory agencies to examine annually the use of TARP funds made by the deposit institutions.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. BARNEY FRANK (D, MA-4): Last year, after we responded to the urgent pleas of the Bush administration to authorize the $700 billion deployment of Federal funds to unstick the credit markets, many of us became very unhappy, [because Bush] repudiated commitments to use a significant part of the fund to diminish foreclosures. If we do not pass this bill today, we will make no progress in what is the single biggest economic problem we've been facing, namely, the foreclosure crisis.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. RON PAUL (R, TX-14): There has been a lot of money spent to try to bail out the financial industry, and nothing seems to be working. I think it's mainly because we haven't admitted that excessive spending can cause financial problems, & excessive debt and inflation can cause problems.

Actually, the recession is therapy for all of the mistakes, but the mistakes come, basically, from a Federal Reserve system that's causing too many people to make mistakes. Interest rates are lower than they should be, so they don't save. That contributes to what we call "moral hazard" as well as the system of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac system. With the assumption that we're all going to be bailed out, people say, "Well, no sweat because, if there is a mistake, the government will come to our rescue." A private FDIC would never permit this massive malinvestment. There would be regulations done in the marketplace, and there would not be this distortion that we've ended up with.

Reference: TARP Reform and Accountability Act; Bill H.R.384 ; vote number 2009-H026 on Jan 21, 2009

Balanced Budget Amendment with 3/5 vote to override.

Chaffetz signed H.J.RES.1& S.J.RES.22

Constitutional Amendment to prohibit outlays for a fiscal year (except those for repayment of debt principal) from exceeding total receipts for that fiscal year (except those derived from borrowing) unless Congress, by a three-fifths rollcall vote of each chamber, authorizes a specific excess of outlays over receipts.

Source: Joint Resolution for Amendment to the Constitution 09-HJR1 on Jan 6, 2009

Demand a Balanced Budget amendment.

Chaffetz signed the Contract From America

The Contract from America, clause 3. Demand a Balanced Budget:

Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax hike.

Source: The Contract From America 10-CFA03 on Jul 8, 2010

Limit federal spending growth to per-capita inflation rate.

Chaffetz signed the Contract From America

The Contract from America, clause 6. End Runaway Government Spending:

Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth.

Source: The Contract From America 10-CFA06 on Jul 8, 2010

Member of House Budget Committee.

Chaffetz is a member of the House Budget Committee

The U.S. House Committee on the Budget's responsibilities include legislative oversight of the federal budget process, reviewing all bills and resolutions on the budget, and monitoring agencies and programs funded outside of the budgetary process. The primary responsibility of the Budget Committee is the drafting and preparation of the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget, commonly referred to as the "budget resolution." This resolution sets the aggregate levels of spending and revenue that is expected to occur in a given fiscal year. Hence each session of Congress, a budget resolution by law must be enacted by April 15.

Source: U.S. House of Representatives website, www.house.gov 11-HC-Bud on Feb 3, 2011

Require a balanced budget, by Constitutional amendment.

Chaffetz co-sponsored Balanced Budget Amendment

JOINT RESOLUTION: Proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

    Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives, That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid when ratified by the legislatures of 3/4ths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:
  1. Total outlays for any fiscal year shall not exceed total receipts for that fiscal year, unless 3/5ths of each House of Congress shall provide for a specific excess by a rollcall vote.
  2. The limit on the debt of the United States held by the public shall not be increased, unless 3/5ths of each House shall provide for such an increase by a rollcall vote.
  3. Prior to each fiscal year, the President shall transmit to the Congress a proposed budget in which total outlays do not exceed total receipts.
  4. No bill to increase revenue shall become law unless approved by a majority of each House by a rollcall vote.
  5. The Congress may waive the provisions of this article for any fiscal year in which a declaration of war is in effect; or when the United States is engaged in military conflict which causes an imminent and serious military threat to national security and is so declared by a joint resolution.
Source: H.J.RES.2 11-HJR02 on Jan 5, 2011

Proposing a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution.

Chaffetz signed Balanced Budget Amendment

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (2/3rds of each House concurring therein), That the article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of 3/4ths of the several States within 7 years after the date of its submission for ratification.

This article shall take effect beginning with the later of the second fiscal year beginning after its ratification or the first fiscal year beginning after December 31, 2016.

Source: H.J.Res.2 11-HJRES2 on Jan 5, 2011

Ban roadway signs indicating Recovery Act funding.

Chaffetz co-sponsored End the Stimulus Advertisement Act

Prohibits the use of funds appropriated or otherwise made available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) for physical signage indicating that a project is funded by such Act.

Under appropriations for FY2012 and FY2013, the total amount available for administrative expenses of an affected agency shall be the amount that would otherwise be available, reduced by 50% of the amount reported to have been expended before the enactment of this Act for such signage.

Requires the head of each affected agency to deposit such reduction amount in the general fund of the Treasury for purposes of deficit reduction.

Source: H.R.389 11-HR0389 on Jan 20, 2011

Apply all remaining stimulus funds to budget deficit.

Chaffetz co-sponsored RESET Act

A BILL: To rescind unobligated stimulus funds and require that such funds be used for Federal budget deficit reduction. This Act may be cited as the "Recovering Excessive Stimulus Expenditures for Taxpayers (RESET) Act."

Source: HR620/S391 11-HR0620 on Feb 17, 2011

Supports the Cut-Cap-and-Balance Pledge.

Chaffetz signed the Cut-Cap-and-Balance Pledge to limit government

[The Cut-Cap-and-Balance Pledge is sponsored by a coalition of several hundred Tea Party, limited-government, and conservative organizations].

Despite our nation's staggering $14.4 trillion debt, there are many Members of the U.S. House and Senate who want to raise our nation's debt limit without making permanent reforms in our fiscal policies. We believe that this is a fiscally irresponsible position that would place America on the Road to Ruin. At the same time, we believe that the current debate over raising the debt limit provides a historic opportunity to focus public attention, and then public policy, on a path to a balanced budget and paying down our debt.

We believe that the "Cut, Cap, Balance" plan for substantial spending cuts in FY 2012, a statutory spending cap, and Congressional passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution is the minimum necessary precondition to raising the debt limit. The ultimate goal is to get us back to a point where increases in the debt limit are no longer necessary. If you agree, take the Cut, Cap, Balance Pledge!

    I pledge to urge my Senators and Member of the House of Representatives to oppose any debt limit increase unless all three of the following conditions have been met:
  1. Cut: Substantial cuts in spending that will reduce the deficit next year and thereafter.
  2. Cap: Enforceable spending caps that will put federal spending on a path to a balanced budget.
  3. Balance: Congressional passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- but only if it includes both a spending limitation and a super-majority for raising taxes, in addition to balancing revenues and expenses.
Source: Cut-Cap-and-Balance Pledge 12-CCB on Jan 1, 2012

Disapprove of increasing the debt limit.

Chaffetz co-sponsored Joint Resolution on Debt Limit

Congressional Summary:JOINT RESOLUTION: Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives: That Congress disapproves of the President's exercise of authority to increase the debt limit, as submitted on Jan. 12, 2012.

Congressional Vote:Vote #4 in the House: 239 Yeas; 176 Nays; Senate declined to vote on the Resolution.

OnTheIssues Explanation: On Jan. 12, 2012, Pres. Obama notified Congress of his intent to raise the nation's debt ceiling by $1.2 trillion, two weeks after he had postponed the request to give lawmakers more time to consider the action. Congress then had 15 days to say no before the debt ceiling is automatically raised from $15.2 trillion to $16.4 trillion. Hence the debt ceiling was increased.

In Aug. 2011, the US government was nearly shut down by an impasse over raising the debt ceiling; under an agreement reached then, the President could raise the debt limit in three increments while also implementing $2.4 trillion in budget cuts. The agreement also gave Congress the option of voting to block each of the debt-ceiling increases by passing a "resolution of disapproval." The House disapproved; the Senate, by declining to vote in the 15-day window, killed the Resolution. Even if the resolution were passed, Pres. Obama could veto it; which could be overridden by a 2/3 majority in the House and Senate. The House vote only had 57% approval, not enough for the 67% override requirement, so the Senate vote became moot. The same set of actions occurred in Sept. 2011 for the first debt ceiling increase.

Source: HJRes.98/SJRes34 12-HJR98 on Jan 13, 2012

Audit the Federal Reserve & its actions on mortgage loans.

Chaffetz co-sponsored Federal Reserve Transparency Act

The Federal Reserve Transparency Act directs: