The Impending Debt Crisis
I firmly believe that the greatest internal threat facing our nation today is runaway federal spending and our ever-increasing national debt.
The national debt now exceeds $15.8 trillion, which is greater than the size of the entire U.S. economy, or over $50,000 for every man, woman and child in America.
This fiscal imbalance is directly attributable to the explosive growth in federal spending. Non-defense discretionary spending has increased 24 percent above 2008 levels and 84 percent when the stimulus is included.
A decade ago, total federal spending was 18 percent of gross domestic product and the budget was balanced. Today, federal spending is nearly 25 percent of gross domestic product and we face record deficits.
This year, the federal budget deficit is projected to reach $1.3 trillion, the fourth consecutive year in which the nation has borrowed more than $1 trillion.
A staggering $5 trillion has been added to the national debt since President Obama took office. Since Ben Chandler has been in Congress, the national debt has more than doubled.
As a result, Washington now borrows roughly 40 cents for every dollar it spends. We are spending over $600 million a day in interest alone on the national debt. And these interest payments will only get worse.
Under President Obama's most recent budget proposal, we are projected to borrow an additional $9 trillion over the next decade, which nearly equals the total amount of debt accumulated by the 43 presidents that preceded him.
All of this irresponsible and wasteful spending has resulted in the first ever downgrade in the U.S. credit rating and it portends a future of slower economic growth and fewer opportunities for the American people.
Specifically, the growing debt will cause the government to issue more bonds, sucking up private capital to finance its debts, thereby reducing funds businesses could use to expand and hire. It will also result in soaring interest rates, skyrocketing inflation, and crushing levels of taxation.
Moreover, interest on the debt will absorb an ever-increasing share of the federal budget, diverting tax revenues away from productive investments like education, research and development, and infrastructure.
We are leaving mountains of debt to our children and grandchildren, and we have become a debtor to foreign governments like China and regimes in the Middle East.
This not only threatens our future economic prosperity, it threatens our national security. And it means we will lose flexibility to cope with future emergencies.
Clearly, we cannot continue this reckless approach. We must take stock of what our true priorities are, limit this rapid expansion of government and ease the burden on our families.
Andy Barr's Plan for National Fiscal Responsibility
I will support an agenda that will cut government spending, balance the federal budget and reduce the national debt:
I will support a pro-growth strategy of tax reform, reigning in burdensome regulations, unleashing America's energy potential and repealing Obamacare, because creating jobs, decreasing unemployment and increasing the number of productive taxpayers is the most effective way to balance the budget.
I will support the Cut, Cap and Balance Act, which requires:
a dollar of spending cuts for every dollar of increase in the debt ceiling;
enforceable spending caps that will put the federal government on a path to a balanced budget; and
a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that will permanently force the government to live within its means.
I will support the elimination of any and all non-defense government programs that compete with or duplicate services performed by the private sector.
I will support legislation requiring the federal government to divest itself from any ownership interest in automobile companies, financial institutions or any other enterprise that does not perform an essential function of the federal government.
I will support budget reform that measures growth in government programs relative to the prior year's expenditures, not relative to an increasing baseline.
I will support a "program closing commission" modeled after the military Base Realignment and Closing (BRAC) commission that would recommend program elimination, realignment and consolidation, subject to an up or down vote with no amendments that generate special interest spending and vote trading.
I will support the re-creation of the Byrd Committee, or the Joint Committee on the Reduction of Nonessential Federal Expenditures, which was operational from 1941 through 1974, the sole mission of which was to identify nonessential government expenditures and recommend their elimination or reduction.
I will support the moratorium on earmarks and oppose pork barrel projects because every appropriation should be subjected to a recorded vote.
I will expose and work to stop questionable junkets, funded by the taxpayers, for Members of Congress.
I will support a Line Item Veto Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
I will support proposals to limit the terms of Appropriations Committee Chairmen to eliminate incentives to dole out projects as a means of accumulating power.
I will support entitlement reform that preserves our commitment to current retirees and those near retirement but makes common sense adjustments that will save Social Security and Medicare for future generations of Americans.
I will work to streamline the federal workforce and examine federal pay and benefit practices to ensure that they are consistent with those in the private sector.
I will work to reduce the number of Presidential appointees, eliminate unaccountable "czars" and limit excessive management layers within the Executive Branch.