Our country is facing a debt crisis. The federal government currently borrows 40 cents of every dollar it spends. This year the government will spend $1.5 trillion more than it takes in, adding to a national debt that is already more than $14.3 trillion, two and a half times the size it was just a decade ago in 2001.
The economic uncertainty created by years of reckless spending and accumulated debt is holding back job creation and growth in the near and long term. Unless we find ways to handle this massive debt, our children, grandchildren and future generations of Americans will be saddled with the crushing burden of paying our bills.
Out of control spending and debt at this level is not only irresponsible, it is a threat to our national security and economic well-being as a nation. In order to get the federal government back on the path to fiscal sanity, we have to stop spending money that we do not have.
One of the best ways to do this is to force fiscal responsibility through a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. This is not a new idea. President Ronald Reagan stated in 1982, “We’ve tried the carrot, and it failed. With the stick of a balanced budget amendment, we can stop government squandering, overtaxing ways, and save our economy.”
Families, businesses, local governments and 49 State governments, including Kentucky, are forced to balance their budgets. Why should the federal government be any different? We cannot continue to rob our children and grandchildren through endless borrowing.
A balanced budget amendment would force future Congresses and presidents of both parties to live within our means and prioritize the projects and programs that Americans truly need instead of the annual unchecked growth that has occurred for too long.
In 1995, Congress came within one vote of passing a balanced budget amendment. Sixteen years later, we will have another chance to get it right when we vote this week on H.J.Res. 1, a constitutional amendment mandating a balanced budget. I have co-sponsored the balanced budget amendment since my first term in Congress and look forward to voting for this important measure.
In addition to the standalone vote on a balanced budget amendment, the House will also consider the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act of 2011. I am an original co-sponsor of this bill that would significantly cut spending immediately, cap future spending on a sliding scale that reduces over time as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and provide for the President’s request for a debt ceiling increase once a balanced budget amendment has passed Congress and been sent to the States for ratification.
Amending the Constitution requires a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate and then it must be ratified by three-fourths of the States before it can take effect.
The time has come for this commonsense reform and I call on all my colleagues and all Americans to join me in supporting a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.