Apr 12 2011
Our country is facing enormous fiscal challenges, which left unchecked will have a disastrous impact on the future of our nation. For too long, members of both political parties have ignored this growing fiscal crisis and allowed our country to live well beyond its means.
Our national debt now stands at more than $14 trillion – slowing our economic growth and threatening the prosperity of future generations who will have to pay for our irresponsibility. In the next three decades, our debt will grow to more than three times the size of our entire economy. This level of government spending is unsustainable and must not continue.
Congress will soon vote on whether to raise the debt ceiling and allow our country to take on more debt – for the 11th time in the last decade. The simple truth is it would be irresponsible to allow this pattern of spending to continue without a serious plan in place to reduce the deficit.
Last year, mandatory spending made up 56 percent of our entire budget. In the coming decade, expenditures on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are expected to double as more Americans retire and fewer workers replace them. Social Security already pays out more than it collects and Medicare’s unfunded liabilities are tens of trillions of dollars. We must reform these programs, but it will take strong leadership and the commitment of both political parties.
In February 2010, President Obama created the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to make recommendations on how best to address our fiscal situation in the short and long term. The Commission’s work marked an important first step on the path forward, but none of their recommendations to improve the fiscal outlook were included in the President’s FY2012 budget proposal. The Obama Administration has also been notably absent from important budget discussions in Congress over the past several months.
Americans are looking for leadership in Washington to confront the problems of today, not push them off on future generations. To date, President Obama has provided little or no leadership on what I believe to be the most important issue facing our nation – our national debt. With no indication that his willingness to lead will change, I informed President Obama this week that I will vote “no” on his request to raise the debt ceiling.
Oftentimes, the debate about government spending is seen as a philosophical, academic, or partisan issue, but the truth is out-of-control borrowing and spending has very real consequences on the daily lives of Americans. We are facing a turning point in our country’s history and can no longer delay difficult decisions.
Whether we have the courage to tackle our fiscal crisis now will determine the course of our country for the next generation. I stand ready to address these challenges, and have urged the President to lead our nation and this Congress in working together to find commonsense solutions to our mounting fiscal crisis.