Once again Congressional Leaders and the President are back at the negotiating table over the amount of debt the federal government can incur. The stakes are very high in this debate. No one wants the U.S. to default on our obligations, which would unleash drastic economic consequences for the United States and its citizens. Earlier this year, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner issued a letter to Congress detailing the serious financial and economic implications that would result if the federal government defaults on its debt obligations. Among the problems listed was potential catastrophic damage to the economy. Just days ago, Standard and Poor's stated they may degrade the long-term credit rating of the U.S. if Congress and the Administration do not address the rising debt burden in the near future.
The ongoing discussions about the nation's credit limit are a symptom of a much larger problem Washington's insatiable spending addiction. Trillions have been spent on bailouts and stimulus packages which have only served to increase our debt and the size of the federal bureaucracy. In the last two years there has been a 24 percent increase in non-defense discretionary spending. This will be the third year in a row of $1 trillion deficits. We have seen a $3.7 trillion increase in the national debt in the last two years and at this rate the debt is on track to exceed the size of our entire economy this year.
The most frustrating aspect of this spending crisis is that the answer is so simple, yet seems to be so beyond the grasp of many in Congress do not spend more than you take in. If we did not spend more than we have, we would not have trillion dollar budget shortfalls. If we did not have massive budget shortfalls, we would not have massive debts.
Last week the House of Representatives passed the Cut, Cap and Balance Act, with bipartisan support. This legislation makes the real cuts and reforms that are needed to get our out-of-control government spending and ever increasing debt under control while preventing the government from defaulting on our obligations. Specifically, this proposal ensures that Congress passes a balanced budget Constitutional amendment, like the one I introduced on the first day of the 112th Congress, as a condition of raising the nation's debt limit. Without a balanced budget Constitutional amendment, any cuts that are made today can easily disappear tomorrow.
The House of Representatives is the only body that has passed a solution that allows us to address the impending debt crisis while also reversing the culture of spending that exists in Washington. Ultimately, we must make the tough decisions necessary to cut government spending and pass a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, helping to assure that future governments live within their means and ensuring that our children and grandchildren are not saddled with debt that is not their own.