It's no secret that our country is in the midst of a severe economic and fiscal crisis that members of both political parties are responsible for creating over the course of many years.
Unemployment hovers above 9 percent in New Jersey, the federal government is slated to spend $1 trillion more per year than it takes in, and future generations of Americans are on the hook for a national debt that now exceeds $14 trillion and counting. To put that into perspective, a baby born today will owe nearly $46,000 to the federal government the very moment he or she takes their first breath.
In short, we are broke. Fixing it will take steadfast leadership and recognition by all Americans to realize that it won't be easy and it won't be fixed overnight. However, if we don't take action now, the long-term economic prosperity of this and future generations will be at serious risk.
Given these circumstances, I wanted to take this opportunity to give you an update on where we've been and where we're going with regard to the nation's budget.
You may recall that last year, for the first time in more than 30 years, House Democrats, under the leadership of then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, failed to pass or even propose a budget for FY 2011. It was a calculated political maneuver that ensured incumbent Democrats running for re-election wouldn't have to take any tough votes on spending.
Their strategy backfired and Democrats were swept out of office in record numbers. Unfortunately, the Democratic majority in the Senate is now picking up where Pelosi left off by refusing to work with Republicans to avoid a government shutdown and make the substantial spending cuts we need.
Earlier this year, I voted with other Republicans and some moderate Democrats to pass a long-term continuing resolution that cut $100 billion in spending.
Unfortunately, Senate Democrats rejected the House-passed spending cuts in the CR and left us with just two options: We could either pass a series of short-term CRs and cut spending a few billion dollars at a time, or, we shut down the government. I opted to vote in favor of the CRs that continue cutting billions of existing dollars. It was not an easy decision, but I believe it was the right one.
I agree that continually passing CRs is not the optimal way to run government. Still, it enabled us to cut an additional $10 billion in spending, while making a good-faith effort to negotiate with the president and Senate Democrats on a budget that funds the federal government for the remainder of the current fiscal year and begins to restore spending discipline to Washington.
A government shutdown could negatively impact the lives of ordinary Americans by, among other things, delaying Social Security checks for our seniors and postponing paychecks for our brave military. That is why it is so critical that the Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama come to the table and work with Republicans to pass a responsible spending plan for the remainder of this year.
Before taking the dramatic step of shutting down the government, Republicans and Democrats must be able to look our constituents in the eye and tell them we did everything possible to forge a bipartisan budget agreement that reduces spending and gets our nation back on sound fiscal and economic footing.
I am confident that Republicans are doing our part, but the president and Senate Democrats are not doing theirs. They owe it to the American people to join Republicans in making an honest attempt to do the work that all of our constituents expect of their elected representatives.
Frankly, I didn't come to Washington to shut down the government and play politics; I came to get things done and turn our country around. I remain hopeful that in the upcoming weeks our Democratic colleagues will realize this reasonable path and join with us to avoid a government shutdown.
As this spending fight intensifies in the coming days, my resolve to break Washington's habits of reckless spending and irresponsible borrowing will remain strong.
The spending spree this country has been on for years cannot be sustained and it threatens to cripple our economy for generations to come. That is why I am determined to do my part to ensure that government finally lives within its means, just like families and small businesses have to do every single day.