All across this country, and especially in the Ninth District, American families have to make difficult choices when it comes to their household budgets. Unfortunately, in Washington, politicians and bureaucrats act like budgets don't matter and it's now been almost four years since the Senate last passed one. This is a clear dereliction of duty to the people they are sworn to represent. If American families are forced to tighten their belts, then Congress should lead the way!
At a time when our national debt is greater than $16 trillion and annual budget deficits exceed $1 trillion, we must be vigilant about how we prioritize the Federal budget. That is why I have supported Republican proposals to significantly cut the size and scope of the Federal budget and pivot towards fiscal responsibility.
If we look across the Atlantic we can see a frightening vision of our future. Europe is experiencing an extended fiscal and economic crisis with no end in sight. In addition to adopting a common currency regime which lacks most of the institutional trappings necessary for its survival, many countries in Europe have lived beyond their means for years. Many racked up massive government debts while benefiting from artificially low interest rates, as the euro signaled to markets that all European debts were alike. The poster child for this behavior, of course, is Greece. Greece racked up a debt-to-GDP ratio of 145 percent in 2010 and 165 percent in 2011. Not surprisingly, investors eventually lost confidence in Greece's ability to service its debts. European lawmakers responded in early 2011 with a combination of a bailout and fiscal austerity. Nevertheless, Greece defaulted on its debts to the detriment of investors and other European taxpayers. Many other European countries also amassed public debts beyond 90 percent of their economies -- including Italy (100 percent) and Portugal (97 percent) in 2011 -- and are now undergoing wrenching austerity and prolonged recessions. In addition to disastrous currency policy, these countries also share a common fiscal policy culprit: high levels of government spending on entitlements -- a fiscal situation by no means foreign to the U.S. government.
While I recognize the role Federal programs play in society, it is imperative we are equally aware of the burdens that unsustainable public debt and increased taxes have on the state of our economic well-being. Continuing down this road will lead to higher interest rates on mortgages, car loans, and other loans, making it more costly for families to borrow money. Ignoring this problem will also bring on higher inflation, reducing the purchasing power of American families and inflicting the most pain on the poor and middle class.
Every generation wants to leave the country better off than what they inherited; unfortunately, failure to address this problem will leave our children and grandchildren with a debt-ridden nation. The problem could become so devastating that it might very well erode the basic freedoms we embrace today.