As a former chairman of the House Budget Committee once said, "If you can't budget, you can't govern." Budgeting is one of the most basic things people do. Families and businesses in Nebraska budget every day, figuring out what their needs are and how they are to be met.
For too long, Washington has been spending money we don't have. Now our country is rapidly approaching $16 trillion in debt and its fourth consecutive trillion-dollar budget deficit. The unsustainable arithmetic of Washington's current fiscal pattern requires tough decisions and principled leadership. Offering a serious budget would be a good start.
Yet, for the third time in four years, the White House has missed its statutory requirement to present a budget on time. Further, it has been more than 1,000 days since the Senate passed a budget resolution. This irresponsibility could not come at a more precarious moment for our fiscal and economic future.
When I talk to Nebraskans, they cannot begin to understand how their own government is able to operate this way. But one thing is for certain: the autopilot spending and smoke-and-mirrors budgeting which has brought our nation to the fiscal brink must end. The incentives in our broken budget process currently favor those who seek to increase government spending, and the result is a crushing burden of debt which is hurting economic growth today and threatening economic prosperity tomorrow.
Last year in the House, we submitted and passed a serious budget on time, and we will do so again this year. Over the last two weeks, we have worked together on a bipartisan basis to reform the way Washington budgets -- to make it more accountable and transparent. These commonsense reforms mark an important step, but there is no substitute for political will in solving our structural budget problems.
While recent economic news has shown some slight improvement, failure to get spending under control -- or reverting to tax hikes -- will certainly reverse this fragile progress. And while Nebraska has been able to weather the current economic and fiscal storm better than most states, the negative effects of Washington's overspending eventually will trickle down and threaten the Good Life.
We need an honest, responsible budget from the White House -- not another campaign document which kicks the hard choices down the road. Rest assured, I will continue to work with anyone who will listen -- regardless of party -- to provide bold solutions, get our economy back on track, and ensure future generations have a shot at the American Dream.