Stop the Madness: National Debt Threatens our Prosperity

January 24, 2012 15:51

The last time they passed a budget, you had never heard of the iPad. Tiger Woods was only known for his golfing abilities. General Motors had never declared bankruptcy. You had never heard of Swine flu.


By Rep. Doug Lamborn January 24, 2012


I propose this simple New Year’s resolution for Congress, pass a budget before borrowing any more money.

Today marks the 1,000th day without a budget from Senate Democrats. The last time they passed a budget, you had never heard of the iPad. Tiger Woods was only known for his golfing abilities. General Motors had never declared bankruptcy. You had never heard of Swine flu.

Despite the lack of a spending plan, or perhaps because of that, Washington’s borrowing and spending continues out of control.

The president recently asked Congress for additional borrowing power of $1.2 trillion. This would bring our national debt to $16.4 trillion.  Under President Obama’s watch, the national debt is projected to increase by $5.8 trillion or nearly 60 percent in just four years, from $10.6 trillion to $16.4 trillion. Last week the House passed a resolution disapproving of President Obama’s request to once again increase the nation’s borrowing limit.

To get our spending under control, we must actually set spending priorities and put a plan forward to reduce our national debt. It is bad enough to borrow like there is no tomorrow. But to do so without even a budget in place is simply wrong.

The Senate’s failure to produce a budget leaves our country without any stated national goals or priorities.  A budget would help answer fundamental questions such as – do we want to remain a world super power with an unrivaled military – or do we want to more closely resemble a European welfare state?

Last year’s House-passed Budget proposed reforms to Medicare to strengthen the program and ensure its long-term survival. That budget began a national discussion about spending priorities. However, the conversation ended when the Senate failed to adopt the House budget or pass its own.

By ignoring the need for entitlement reform and failing to pass a budget, our national priorities are adrift. Because President Obama and Senate Democrats have refused to tackle entitlement spending, almost by default, they look to defense for savings. Defense has already been cut by more than half-a-trillion dollars under the Obama Administration and is facing billions more in cuts in the years ahead. This is compared to an increase of almost 20 percent for all other domestic spending in the first two years of this administration.

Ultimately, it is the middle class that will suffer from overspending. Americans have been for too long feeling the pain of an economy that cannnot create jobs. The economy simply cannot grow when our debt reaches these levels. Private investment capital is sucked up by the federal government. We become more dependent on nations like China. Servicing the debt consumes a bigger and bigger share of annual federal spending.

Consider the case of Greece. Just two years ago their debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio was 101%.

Economists have found that when government debt-to-GDP ratio rises above 90%, it lowers the future potential GDP of that country by more than 1%. It also locks in a slow-growth, high-unemployment economy.

Today Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio is 183 %.

Two years ago, the United States’ debt-to-GDP ratio was 88 %. Today, we have crossed the tipping point that economists warn of, and we are at 101 %.

If we make spending reforms now, before we reach Greece-like crisis levels, I believe we can avoid much of this pain, grow our economy, and restore the American dream.

One reform would be to simply require that both Houses of Congress pass a budget before granting the president authority to borrow more money. It is a common sense, no-gimmicks proposal that could put an end to Washington’s spending madness.

Last week, in conjunction with the House’s vote to disapprove the President’s request to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, I introduced a bill calling for just that —  preventing Congress from raising the debt ceiling limit unless the House and the Senate have agreed to a budget resolution. This can only be waived with a vote of two-thirds of the Members in both Houses.

Many other members have introduced bills of their own to encourage Congress to actually budget and set priorities for our nation. A Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution has been one that has garnered a lot of attention.  We cannot afford to go another 1000 days without a budget.

The choice is clear. We can adopt common sense spending reforms or we can continue to borrow and spend without any restraints and turn into the next Greece.

Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, Colorado, represents the state’s Fifth Congressional District.

Cross posted at The Heritage Foundation

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