It is clear to most Americans that the government simply cannot continue to spend so much money. From 2008 until 2011, federal spending has increased nearly 30 percent. Now about 40 cents of every dollar that the federal government spends is borrowed. Deficits are higher than they have been at any time since World War II.
Congress and the President still have to finish the budget for 2011. For the first time ever, the previous Congress did not even attempt to pass a budget. This irresponsible failure has added to the fiscal mess our country is in. We will not solve these problems with a single bill, but we must continually make progress to restore fiscal sanity.
In February, I voted for H.R. 1, which passed the House and would take non-security, discretionary spending back to 2008 levels. For most programs, that level of funding will be a significant reduction from the inflated 2010 levels. Those higher levels cannot be sustained.
The next challenge is to pass a budget for 2012. President Obama has sent Congress his proposals, but his budget does not take the serious steps that are necessary to get the country back on track. I hope that the House will do better.
Over the next few weeks, Congress must complete work on 2011 and then turn to the 2012 budget. I believe that a top priority must be to get defense off of the table. It is absolutely wrong to have troops in combat not know whether they will receive their paychecks for the next few weeks. I also hope that we can enact some of the key funding limitations already passed by the House dealing with the health care bill, EPA regulations, and abortion funding.
Many difficult decisions must be made, but I believe that Congress must remember that every dollar it spends is either taken from a taxpayer who earned it or borrowed -- with interest -- for future generations to repay. We cannot correct all of the mistakes of the past at once, but we have to get started now at putting the country on a fiscally responsible path.
Federal spending spree
In addition to being too heavy-handed, for the past two years the government has been on a spending spree with few results to show for it. The 2009 stimulus, which I voted against, is a good example. While President Obama claimed the stimulus bill would create 3.5 million jobs, the nation has lost a total of 2.7 million since it went into effect. In fact, according to White House data, 49 states and the District of Columbia have lost jobs since the stimulus was enacted.
Deficit is swelling and debt is skyrocketing
Spending more than you take in is deficit spending, and the federal deficit was three times higher in 2009 than it was in 2008. In fact, the U.S. government tied an all-time deficit spending record in August 2009. Long-term deficits will drive up interest rates for consumers, raise prices of goods and services, and weaken America's competitiveness and economic security.
When there is a deficit, the government must borrow the money it needs to pay its bills. This borrowed money constitutes our national debt, which currently stands at $12 trillion and is growing at rates that have not been matched since World War II.
In early February 2010, the debt ceiling was raised to $14.3 trillion -- roughly the size of the entire U.S. economy. It is the fifth such increase in the past few years. Each American's share of that debt is $46,319. Each household's share is $121,982.
Growing our economy
Deficit spending that leads to a doubling of the debt is no solution to jump-starting our economy, creating jobs, or running the government. It is my hope that Democrats and Republicans can come together to bring real fiscal responsibility and do what's right for families, for small businesses, and for our country's future. But, ultimately, it will be you and other hard-working Americans that strengthen the economy and bring our country to prosperity. Congress needs to make policies that recognize and reward America's natural entrepreneurship rather than stifling it.