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Blog: Honest Solutions for America's Debt


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Our nation faces serious economic and fiscal challenges that must be addressed in order to protect the economic security and prosperity of future generations. We literally can't afford to ignore the unsustainable growth of government, wasteful spending and surging levels of debt that have come to define our country over the last decade.

With our national debt now topping $14 trillion and our budget deficit cresting above $1.5 trillion last year, we have finally reached a crisis point. If we continue to kick the proverbial can down the road, our children and grandchildren will be shackled to a future of higher taxes, inflation, skyrocketing interest rates and massive unemployment.

As your United States Congressman, I refuse to accept this future; I refuse to sit by and let the wave of debt come crashing down on our country. The longer we trick ourselves into believing that we can put off this problem, the harder it will be to climb out of the hole we have dug ourselves into.

Last week, I took the first step to address the fiscal crisis facing our country. As Chairman of the Republican Study Committee's (RSC) Budget and Spending Task Force, I unveiled Honest Solutions: Fiscal Year 2012 Budget.

Honest Solutions provides common-sense conservative solutions to address our country's fiscal crisis by balancing our federal budget and eliminating our deficit in less than ten years. It's enshrined in the belief that gimmicks and tricks won't cure our spending addiction; we need honest solutions to address the challenges ahead.

Specifically, Honest Solutions addresses the following areas to balance the budget in less than ten years:

Reduce Spending

* Repeal the recent health care law signed by President Obama to eliminate $677 billion in additional spending over ten years.
* Ensure that our nation spends responsibly by freezing total discretionary spending at 2008 levels ($933 billion) beginning in 2013.
* Ensure our nation's national security by meeting Defense Secretary Robert Gates' defense request. Defense spending would total $696 billion in 2012 and would increase to $747 billion in 2021.
* Reduce non-defense discretionary spending from $409 billion in 2012 to $218 billion in 2021.
* Reduce unnecessary mandatory spending--other than Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security--by $1.9 trillion between 2012 and 2021.

Save Medicare

* Strengthen Medicare's long-term finances. This budget would slowly phase-in an increase in the Medicare eligibility age for those born in 1952 and after.
* Provide improved healthcare choices for individuals at or near retirement. The RSC believes that current Medicare beneficiaries should have the option to voluntarily opt-in to a menu of private health insurance plans. This optional "premium-support" system would be structured much like the health insurance that Members of Congress receive. Over time, Medicare would transition to a solvent premium-support system.

Reform Medicaid

* Block-grant Medicaid and remove Washington D.C.'s burdensome red tape. This budget would empower the states with the appropriate flexibility to determine Medicaid eligibility and benefits, thereby improving the quality of care and access to vital services for the neediest and most vulnerable Americans.

Safeguard Social Security

* Strengthen Social Security's long-term finances. This budget would slowly phase-in an increase in the Social Security full retirement age for individuals born in 1952 and after.

Enact Pro-Growth Tax Reform

* Prevent any new tax increases on the American people and repeal the unaffordable $813 billion tax increase included the recent health care law signed by President Obama. This budget proposes a smarter tax code that would lower rates while broadening the tax base.

We face a once-in-a-generation opportunity to move away from the empty promises of the past and face down the devastating consequences of inaction. I believe the principles enshrined in Honest Solutions will put our great nation on surer footing, address the fiscal crisis, and set the course for dynamic innovation, job creation and economic growth. Together, we will make the tough decisions to leave this country in a better condition than we found it.

Scott Garrett

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