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Jason Chaffetz to Utah lawmakers: Washington, D.C. is 'absolute disaster'

Published: Monday, Feb. 13 2012 2:38 p.m. MST

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Sept. 10, 2011.

Mike Terry, Deseret News archives

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SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Jason Chaffetz said people often ask him how things are going in Washington, D.C.

His answer?

"It's a mess. It's an absolute disaster," he told the Utah Senate.

The 3rd District Republican made his annual visit Monday to the Utah Legislature to update lawmakers on happenings in Congress.

Chaffetz railed against the $16 trillion federal deficit, noting that at $1 million a day, it would take 3,000 years to reach a trillion. The federal government has added 145,000 employees since President Barack Obama took office and 450,000 federal workers earn more than $100,000 a year, he said.

"I could go on and on," he said. "Obviously, the federal government is not living within its means."

Obama on Monday released a $3.8 trillion budget outline for fiscal 2013, which he says will help cut $4 trillion from the deficit over the next decade.

Chaffetz told state legislators he had not yet seen the proposal, but Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, quickly condemned the plan as "irresponsible and shameful."

“It continues the policies that are making it harder for American families to get back on track. His proposal perpetuates Washington’s spending problem, deepens America’s debt, and calls for the largest tax hike in history," Lee said in a statement. "The president claims ‘savings’ by using well-known budgeting gimmicks and has again denied the American people an opportunity to honestly discuss American’s fiscal future.”

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, called the Obama spending plan misguided.

"I would love to know where the president thinks the money will come from to fund all that this bill would require now and well into the future," he said in a statement. "Even the astronomical and irresponsible $1.9 trillion in tax increases included in this budget isn’t enough to balance the books."

During a question-and-answer session in the state Senate with Chaffetz, Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, said Congress agreed to not raise the debt ceiling, yet it's going up again.

"I thought you were going to be one of the ones back there to stop that," he told Chaffetz.

The two-term congressman said he voted against it but not enough of his colleagues did. "I can look you all in the eyes and say, 'I'm trying. I'm trying,'" he said.

In the House, Chaffetz said states need to be prepared for less federal money in the future.

"There are going to be less funds. We are going to have to make adjustments, particularly with our entitlement funds," the congressman said. He said one solution could be to "get rid of the bureaucracy" by letting states hang on to revenues now shared with the federal government.

Chaffetz said he is pushing for states to set and collect all gas taxes. He has also sponsored a resolution warning states not to "look to the federal government to bail you out."

He praised Utah for dealing with the issue seriously. "Federal finances are dire," Chaffetz said, warning that the nation's "spending problems are out of control."

The congressman also told lawmakers he's worried about cyber security.

"This is a threat to the United States that will not go away," he said. "We are under attack by nation states and guys in a van down by the river."

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy

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