By Representative David Rivera
From its inception, the story of our great nation is one of overcoming challenges. We have triumphed over threats to our freedom, security and way of life -- and we have always come out stronger. Whether it be a civil war which threatened to tear our union apart or the global spread of communism which tested America's ideals of freedom and the world's concept of self-governance, America has survived these 235 years through a dedication and devotion to the American spirit of hard work and sacrifice.
Today, America is at a fiscal crossroads. As a result of uncontrolled spending, we are faced with an ever-growing, unsustainable national debt. The resulting insecurity for job creators has led to a consistently high unemployment rate. Moody's Investor's Service has threatened to downgrade the U.S. credit rating if an agreement on the debt limit cannot be reached. We are already feeling the effects of this financial crisis on our American way of life, and now it threatens our economic standing on the global stage. Yet, like the many challenges America has faced in the past, I believe if we take the proper course of action, we will overcome this challenge as well, and leave future generations with a better and more prosperous country.
In recent years our federal government has spent money at an unsustainable rate. While tax revenues have stayed at about 18 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), spending has increased with each fiscal year. We spend more than we collect in tax revenues and we fill the gap by borrowing. Consequently, our national debt has grown to more than $14 trillion and the annual deficit stands at more than $1 trillion dollars. We will soon reach the debt limit that prevents the government from borrowing more money. Some have argued that we should just raise the debt limit, as Congress has done 69 times previously, and leave this problem to another Congress and another generation. That option is unacceptable to me. I will not vote for an increase in the debt limit without a long-term solution to our spending addiction.
One such solution that has been presented is the Cut, Cap, Balance Act. This piece of legislation contains three components that would begin to put our nation's fiscal house in order and back on the path to financial responsibility.
The first step is to cut spending to substantially reduce the deficit for years to come. The second step is to cap federal spending in relation to gross domestic product. The third step is to amend the Constitution to require the federal government to balance the federal budget. I support the Cut, Cap, Balance Act because it would restore fiscal responsibility now, and prevent future politicians from going back to continuous deficit spending.
American families and small business owners must live within their means. If they spend more than they take in, it will eventually catch up with them. The federal government is no different.
President Ronald Reagan once said, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same." We must pledge to pass on a country with the same promise for prosperity as the one we have known -- an America that encourages entrepreneurship and investment, promotes economic prosperity and rewards innovation and success. We must pledge to pass on a country where the American dream is alive and well.
It is time for leaders in Washington to stop the empty rhetoric and act in the interest of the American people and generations of Americans to come.
Rivera is a Republican; his district includes eastern Collier County.