Last week, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its 2012 Long-Term Budget Outlook, which makes projections regarding our nation's future spending, revenues, deficits, and debt.
In its report, the CBO projects that as a result of growing health care costs and an aging population that will increase Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid spending, our country will face unsustainable debt growth if we continue on our current path. It concludes that by the end of this year, the federal debt could reach roughly 70 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), the highest percentage since shortly after World War II.
This report makes one thing clear: to continue to ignore this country's debt crisis threatens our economy, our standing in the world and our national security. Our debt crisis didn't start four years ago -- it's been decades in the making. The "my way or the highway" approach and partisan bickering that has come to define this Congress clearly isn't working and it must change. Congress must be willing to work together, listen to each other and the American people to get the job done.
Since I first came to Congress in 2001, I have been sounding the alarm on federal spending and our national debt. Federal spending has ballooned out of control and the federal government has made too many promises it can no longer afford.
We must stop the out-of-control spending in Washington and begin reducing our skyrocketing national debt. If we allow our national debt to reach 70 percent or more of GDP, our nation could see higher interest rates, higher taxes, a reduction in government benefits and services, and the increased probability of a sudden fiscal crisis--further crippling our struggling economy. Congress cannot allow this to happen. It must commit itself to putting this country back on a path to balanced budgets and long term fiscal sustainability.
The roadmaps to achieve this goal are plentiful and bipartisan. In fact, as a leader of the fiscally conservative, Democratic Blue Dog Coalition, I helped draft the "Blue Dog Benchmarks of Fiscal Reform," which would cut the deficit by $4 trillion over ten years, stabilize the debt and reduce the size of government. These benchmarks were based on the Fiscal Commission Report, but there are other large, bipartisan plans that achieve the same goals. The ideas are out there. Now we just need to prove that Congress has the political will to do what's best for America.
It's been done before. During the Clinton Administration, Congress passed a balanced federal budget and gave us a budget surplus. Though the budget surpluses didn't last long after President Clinton left office, the experience taught us that by working together in a bipartisan manner, it is possible to get our fiscal house back in order. It was done then and it can be done again.
I have always stood ready and willing to work with both sides to pass bipartisan, commonsense legislation that reins in deficit spending and gets our economy back on track. And as a fiscal conservative, I will continue to be a moderating voice in this debate, bringing everyone to the table as we find commonsense ideas that help us return to the days of a balanced budget and a stronger economy.