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End of the Line: Our Last Chance for Spending Sanity


Location: Washington, DC

Here we are, just days from a defining moment for this Congress and our nation as a whole -- raising the amount of money the United States government can continue to borrow. Rarely in life do we have retrospective vision on failed policies as well as foresight to see an imminent disaster. It is equally rare to be handed an opportunity to correct those problems and make decisions, even if they are not popular, that will affect every future generation of Americans.

Of course, we all know President Obama is asking Congress for another blank check to borrow and spend as he wishes. We also know -- from the comical budget he presented to Congress earlier this year -- the president is not at all serious about addressing the reality of our $14 trillion national debt and the $188 million that we add to it every hour.

A lot has been said about the catastrophic consequences of not raising the debt limit. I agree, the debt ceiling must be raised, but I firmly believe that failing to immediately address federal spending presents the same risk to our country as failing to raise the debt ceiling. It is crucial that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle understand this is a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Maintaining good credit means more than raising your credit card limit.

I have yet to hear a convincing argument that can explain how taking money away from businesses and corporations as they begin to turn a profit creates jobs. With unemployment locked in above 9% nationally, it is amazing to think that anyone would even offer raising taxes as a feasible solution.

Every dollar the federal government takes out of the American economy is a dollar that cannot be used by American companies and entrepreneurs to create jobs and grow the economy. That is why I will not vote for a debt ceiling increase that involves any tax increases on any segment of the American population. Period.

My colleagues and I in the Republican Study Committee (RSC) have proposed a "Cut, Cap and Balance" solution to end our spending addiction and pay off our nation's debt. This three-pronged approach would both rein in spending now and ensure we never end up with $14 trillion in debt ever again.

Here's how it works:

* The first step is making discretionary and mandatory spending reductions that would cut the deficit in half next year. This includes evaluating every aspect of the federal government, including entitlement programs.

* The second step is setting enforceable caps to align federal spending with average revenues at 18% of GDP. This includes enforcing automatic spending reductions if the caps are breached in any given year.

* Finally, the last step is passing a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution. Congress's past failure to produce balanced budgets is a major cause of the fiscal crisis facing the country. It is past time that Congress accepts a limit on its runaway spending so that the federal government can join the 49 states that already govern with some form of a balanced budget.

Of course, it will not be easy to convince my colleagues to support this plan. It involves making difficult decisions and confronting years of irresponsible behavior dating back to before many of us began to serve. Real solutions are not necessarily easy solutions. But given the dangerous condition of our nation's fiscal health, and the long-standing desire to leave our country in a better state for the next generation, we must recognize that tough choices will be necessary.

No one wants to clean up someone else's mess, but our constituents sent us to Washington to make difficult decisions. At the end of the day, every Member of Congress will be faced with the question: "What did you do to preserve economic freedom for future generations?"
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