By Rep. Pete Olson
When an individual or a family lives beyond their means, racking up debt on credit cards, it can take many years to get out of debt. The amount of money they pay in interest can add up to thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars. That's money that could be spent on braces, a needed new car, kids' sports, college tuition, or a bigger house. For small business owners who rack up debt, it means less money in their pocket, less money for employees' raises, and less ability to expand and hire new employees.
The same thing happens when the government lives beyond its means. America has been struggling to get past a crippling recession that left millions of workers out of a job. Many people have given up hope of ever finding work. A bad economy, combined with crushing debt, has taken its toll on our people. This has been the slowest recovery in our history, and to term it a recovery is generous. When a bad economy hits a family, they sit down and figure out how operate with less money. Not so with the federal government.
When a bad economy hit, President Obama and congressional Democrats, who controlled all spending at the time; massively increased federal spending by passing a costly stimulus bill. When that failed to stimulate the economy as they hoped, instead of changing tactics, they pushed for more spending, plunging America further into debt. Our national credit rating was downgraded and the economy remains fragile and unpredictable.
The interest taxpayers must pay on our national credit card is staggering. Much like the family that forgoes braces or college tuition to pay down debt, our national debt will begin to cut into the government's ability to provide needed services. Sequestration - the mandatory budget cuts that have recently been implemented -- is touted as cruel and intolerable. It won't even scratch the surface if we don't get spending under control. If we do not move soon to reform and save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security - programs that many elderly and poor rely on -- they will end. Reforming them will not only ensure those programs are there for those who need them, but it will also put us on the road to economic survival.
Government spending has not improved our economy. Economic recovery can only be achieved through growth. Government's primary role is to ensure policies are in place to allow businesses to grow. As families do every day, we need to balance our national checkbook and make sure we don't spend beyond our means. We borrow forty cents of every dollar we spend. This crippling spending crisis is restricting economic growth. And when the bill eventually comes due for this spending, the Democrat Left will be seeking to again raise taxes in the misguided and illogical belief that it will solve our problems. They really can't explain it -- it's just what they do.
There is a better way to strengthen our economy and right America's fiscal ship. The House Republican budget makes the tough, necessary choices needed to cut back on spending, balance our budget and provides the climate that businesses need to expand and grow. Our budget cuts spending responsibly and balances our books in ten years without raising taxes. It forces our nation to live within its means so that businesses can begin to plan for a certain future and make the investments needed to hire more employees. The House Republican budget will also ensure that the promise of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security is preserved. Our budget will help improve the lives of American families by providing economic security for employees, ensuring a secure retirement for the elderly, expanding opportunities for young people and repairing the safety net for the poor.
Olson is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.