Column: Why Cut, Cap and Balance is needed
It is no secret we have a spending crisis. Far too long, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have spent trillions more per year than we have, leading to staggering deficits and long-term debt. But this isn't a partisan problem. This is an American problem. If your business or household budget was in trouble, you would first stop digging yourself a deeper hole and cut back your spending. You would then cap what your current expenses are and rebalance your budget. The federal government needs to do the same. Washington needs to take a lesson from you, mainstream America. That is why I supported the Cut, Cap and Balance Act, which takes this simple approach.
From the bipartisan fiscal commission, to the Medicare trustees, to the president himself, everyone has recognized that we are on an unsustainable economic path that will cause a sovereign debt crisis if we do not change course. I co-sponsored HR2560, the Cut, Cap and Balance Act of 2011, because it is the first concrete plan in Washington that specifically addresses both the short-term and long-term problems. The short-term problem is the debt ceiling. The long-term problem is the spending crisis.
This bill gives the president the funds he says are needed to handle the cash calls and debt servicing owed to our foreign and domestic lenders. But it is important that we recognize the size of government has been growing so rapidly, it has far outpaced the ability of the taxpayers to reasonably pay for it. For example, if we, as a country, were to conclude that we like all of the programs we are currently funding, and did not want to change one thing, we would have to raise the current tax rates by about 88 percent in order to collect enough money to pay for the programs. For most people, that is simply unacceptable.
The Cut, Cap and Balance Act reduces discretionary spending by $31 billion compared to last year, and reduces mandatory spending by $51 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2012. From FY 2013-2021, the legislation caps federal spending at the same levels (as a percentage of GDP) as the House-passed FY 2012 budget resolution. Ultimately the legislation will save $5.8 trillion over 10 years.
Every individual, family and business in America has to live within a budget. Every state in America has to live within a budget. It is not too much to ask for the federal government to live within a budget. If previous Congresses had shown fiscal discipline, we would not need a balanced budget amendment. But history shows us that without this amendment, Republicans and Democrats drunk with federal spending, those intoxicated with endless borrowing, and those addicted to federal largesse, cannot stop. We must stop their profligacy. The House of Representatives did so by passing Cut, Cap and Balance by a vote of 234 to 190. I stand with 234 other members of Congress who see the importance of averting the pending fiscal catastrophe. A balanced budget amendment would ensure this fiscal crisis is not passed on to future generations, protecting our children and grandchildren from cleaning up our mess.
I am opposed to the debt ceiling plan proposed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). McConnell's plan not only fails to adequately address the current fiscal crisis in the country, it is patently unconstitutional and unwise. The Constitution grants only Congress, not the president, the power "to borrow money on the credit of the United States." The McConnell proposal abdicates constitutional power from Congress and gives the president the authority to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling in exchange for insufficient spending cuts that have no guarantee of ever being enacted. If this inadequate proposal comes before the U.S. House of Representatives, I will vigorously oppose it.
The American people sent me and so many others to Washington D.C. to stop the fiscal madness. The U.S. House has done its job and put a serious common sense plan on the table. Everyone else that is serious about our spending crisis needs to do the same.