I ran for Congress because I knew our nation faced serious budget challenges. Now, having more information and the opportunity to dig deeper into the problem, I realize the crisis is even worse than I thought.
The American People deserve to hear the truth: America is broke.
Since President Obama took office, Democrats have increased discretionary spending by 24 percent and added more than $3 trillion to the national debt. At the current rate, we borrow more than $4.1 billion a day simply to sustain normal government operations. We will add another $1.65 trillion--or 1,650 billion dollars--to the debt in fiscal year 2011, more than the entire economic output of countries like Russia, Spain, and Canada. And--within a decade--we will be paying more than $800 billion in interest every year, much of it to foreign nations.
We are on an unsustainable path. Without change, the future holds a toxic combination of debt, new taxes, and burdensome government regulations that together stymie small business growth, job creation, and prosperity. Erskine Bowles, co-chair of the president's blue ribbon fiscal commission, describes the coming storm as "the most predictable economic crisis in history."
I am confident that we can fix this problem, but nothing will happen until Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid drops the political posturing and starts demonstrating a decent respect for the opinions of the American People, who demand significant cuts to federal spending and a serious reduction to our national debt.
House Republicans are doing the job that the American People elected us to do. We passed a complete repeal of Obamacare. We passed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, and we defunded Planned Parenthood and the president's czars. Most importantly, we passed a responsible funding plan that would keep the government open while cutting $61 billion in federal spending over the next six months -- the largest spending cuts in modern history.
But House Republicans cannot impose our will on Senate Democrats. Harry Reid and his caucus are blocking it all.
Rather than do something about the problem, Democrats duck and dodge responsibility. They want to spin this debate as a dispute within the Republican caucus, while casting those that want real cuts as "extreme.' Let us be clear: the fight is between Republicans, who want to cut massive federal spending, and Democrats, who want to defend it.
And it is the Washington spending spree over the last two years that is extreme--not the people working to rein it in.
We are days away from a possible government shutdown, but have yet to see a proposal from Senate Democrats, who would prefer to maintain spending at historically high levels. According to news reports, Reid may resort to a political "split the baby" strategy that trims just $33 billion in spending while protecting liberal priorities like Obamacare and Planned Parenthood. Put another way, from our $1,650 billion deficit, Democrats are unwilling to cut more than $33 billion--just two percent.
I do not believe that the American People sent us to Washington to acquiesce to a mere two percent reduction in our tremendous deficit.
In truth, we need to be talking about trillions--not billions--in cuts. For example, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, who is widely respected as an expert on the federal budget, has prepared an alternative to President Obama's "borrow and spend" plan. Ryan's transformational budget would cut government spending by $6.2 trillion over ten years and make significant reforms to save critical mandatory spending programs like Medicare.
Of note, Ryan's proposal would not affect anyone over the age of 55. For those under 55, like me, programs such as Social Security and Medicare will not exist unless we make changes to maintain them for future generations.
The ideas contained in Ryan's proposed budget of less spending, less borrowing, and less taxes should drive the debate going forward. And the chances of responsibly addressing these difficult challenges in the future are much higher if Congress can make significant discretionary cuts now.
From the start, House Republicans have sought to keep the government open while reducing government spending. It is irresponsible to shut down the government to prove a political point, especially if there is an alternative way forward that cuts spending, funds our troops, and promotes job creation.
There is room to negotiate a path toward real cuts, but not until Democrats demonstrate that they have heard the American People and are serious about cutting spending, restoring certainty to the economy, and creating an environment where small businesses can grow and create jobs.
To date, Majority Leader Reid and Senate Democrats have not come close. It is time for them to reverse course, respect the views of the public, and work with those of us who are committed to creating a stronger, more prosperous America for our children and grandchildren.