Congresswoman Martha Roby

Representing the 2nd District of Alabama

Editorial: U.S. Rep. Martha Roby wants an honest budget

February 3, 2012
Opinion
Freshman lawmakers don’t usually make much noise on Capitol Hill. It’s more usual that they keep a low profile and get the lay of the land before getting out on a limb. Many of them hug the trunk their entire political careers.

Apparently no one told Martha Roby about that. When she was elected in 2010 to represent Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, she hit the ground running, serving on the Republican transition team to reform the rules of the House of Representatives even before she was sworn in. Rather than sit on the sidelines, she’s taken the on-the-job-training approach, learning the ropes while participating in the legislative process.

That’s good for the people of our congressional district, particularly since she serves on House committees for agriculture and armed forces, both of which are vital to our area’s economy. But Roby’s enthusiasm may well have a positive influence on the way our government works.

This week, Roby introduced HR 3844, called the Honest Budget Act, a challenge to budget manipulation that cost taxpayers more than $350 million last year.

Call it semantics, strategies or outright trickery – the gimmicks employed in the House and Senate shield the way money is being spent from the taxpayers.

In a culture where virtually every position or expression from a politician reeks of partisan motivation, it’s refreshing that Roby, a Republican, makes no partisan distinction in charging her colleagues with budget chicanery. It’s not a partisan problem, but a failure of the culture itself.

We haven’t seen the complete text of the measure – and, after all, the devil is in the details – but what’s proposed by Roby, the bill’s 28 co-sponsors, and Sen. Jeff Sessions, who has a companion bill in the Senate, could help lift the veil over Washington spending.

Perhaps her enthusiasm for transparency will rub off on other elected officials, particularly those in the Alabama Legislature.