All of us are together at a crucial point in our nation's history. We have reached a point at which we must pay the bills our government has accumulated, and we must also assure that the government will be far more responsible from now on. To pay the bills, we must raise the Treasury's debt ceiling responsibly. I am working with my colleagues in Congress to find a solution that addresses the current debt crisis, reduces wasteful spending and preserves the full faith and credit of the United States. Our nation has another critical and painful problem that is related to our enormous debt: 14 million Americans need jobs. That number has grown, not shrunk, despite a massive outlay of taxpayer dollars during the past two-plus years of attempted stimulus. Unfortunately, the federal government does not create jobs; our enterprise economy, our businesses small and large, create jobs. We can make our economy grow and create jobs by assuring that the dollars Americans work so hard for are theirs to spend and save and invest. So raising taxes at a time like this would be a very bad idea. President Obama himself has said this.
We can reform our tax code and close loopholes, as the president has urged, but we must do so without a net increase in the nation's tax burden. It takes time to rewrite thousands of pages of tax code. The plan that Speaker John Boehner has introduced, to allow us to raise the debt ceiling responsibly, provides for time to start serious work on smart tax reform. This will allow our economy to grow, which raises revenues by putting Americans to work, so that they can contribute their fair share to the work of the federal government.
And let's remember how we ended up with our enormous debt: For years, the federal government, Republicans and Democrats alike, has lacked the discipline to stop deficit spending. We now have a responsibility to make difficult decisions and start making the short- and- long-term changes necessary to get this country back on track. That means finding common ground and having the courage of our convictions. It means rolling up our sleeves and being dedicated to solving problems, not adding to the problems we already have. Now is not the time for finger-pointing or political posturing. Getting to this point has taken many years.
As the daughter of elderly parents, I understand how much our seniors rely on Social Security and Medicare, and I am working hard with my colleagues in Congress to protect those benefits. Our most pressing obligation is to ensure that the benefits that have been promised to those receiving them today, and that are anticipated by those who will soon be eligible, will be reliably funded. As we explore common-sense reforms so that Social Security and Medicare can fulfill its mission for future generations, we know that we must preserve what our seniors rely on.
While it's likely that the final plan congressional leaders will agree upon will not go as far to cut spending as I would like, we are negotiating with a Senate majority leader and president who have a different point of view. In reaching a solution to raising the debt ceiling responsibly, cooperation is important and necessary. And even after Congress and the president reach an agreement, which I am confident we will, we'll need to do much more in the weeks and months that follow. Our nation didn't get into this fiscal mess overnight, and we aren't going to get out of it overnight, either -- but progress in the right direction will be welcome for all of us, and a very healthy step forward to grow jobs and our economy.