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Washington on notice: A Trib exclusive from House Speaker John Boehner

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By John Boehner
Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Together, President Obama and his Democrat majority in the Senate hold the lion's share of power in Washington. They have the capacity — right now — to solve the spending problem that is chasing good jobs overseas and causing so much anxiety about our future. They can stop a debt crisis.

A budget is a logical place to start. Passing a budget is one of the most basic responsibilities of governing. But the Senate has failed to fulfill this responsibility for nearly four years. In that time, our debt has risen to the point that it now exceeds the size of our entire economy.

This year has been shaping up to be no different. The president's second inaugural address made barely any mention of our economy or our spending problem. The word “debt” was never used. His budget, due Monday, will be at least one month late. In addition, he and his allies in the Senate are making familiar demands for more tax increases that will hurt small businesses and destroy more jobs.

Meanwhile, outside the Beltway, families are stretching every last penny to live by a budget. Many are paying more and more for groceries, gasoline and other everyday items while their incomes are flat or falling, thanks to the president's misguided policies. Taking more in taxes and putting off tough choices would just pinch Americans even further.

The economy shouldn't be an afterthought — it should drive everything we do. That's why Republicans will press the Democrats' majority to act on solutions that bring jobs home and get our economy moving again. To that end, we recently passed legislation forcing Senate Democrats to live up to their legal responsibility to pass a budget. If they can't pass a budget, they don't deserve to have their salaries paid out from the tax dollars of families who balance their checkbooks.

No budget, no pay — it's that simple.

In the House, we have passed a budget every year since Americans entrusted Republicans with the majority.

These budgets have set out solutions for everything from fixing our burdensome tax code and preserving our entitlement programs to reining in red tape and unlocking our domestic energy resources.

Indeed, a responsible budget involves much more than making numbers line up right; it's a chance to forge for our children a true path to prosperity. Economic growth is the single most important element of any solution to our spending problem.

The No Budget, No Pay Act shouldn't have been necessary. Our debt is growing by billions of dollars a day with no relief in sight. We should be getting ahead of these challenges, not making ourselves address them. I come back to a lesson I learned running a small business — failing to plan is planning to fail.

We should heed that wisdom. Now that Senate Democrats have been forced to do a budget, they ought to do it right. Taxpayers who trust us with their money deserve no less. On their behalf, my appeal to Senate Democrats is this — pass a balanced budget.

Pass a budget that addresses the out-of-control spending that is driving our debt. Every day that goes by without one is another day we are failing to solve our spending problem and putting our economy at unnecessary risk. If we can't get this done, we shouldn't be paid.

Republicans are ready to do our part. We will work with anyone on solutions that balance our budget and help create jobs. We will work with anyone committed to protecting and strengthening critical programs like Medicare and Social Security.

We welcome ideas for combating poverty and expanding opportunity to all Americans. Too much is at stake for the Democrat majority in Washington to waste this opportunity.

It's their call.

John Boehner, R-Ohio, is the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

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