The national debt now has surpassed $15 trillion -- larger than our entire economy. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate continues to hover near double digits. We cannot afford to sit by while out-of-control federal spending and ever-growing debt continue to drive down economic growth and paralyze job creators. But simply taxing our way to a balanced budget would require tax rates to more than double, and raising taxes on our nation's job creators would make it even more difficult for them to hire new workers, much less keep their doors open. Seniors and families working to make ends meet don't deserve tax increases; they deserve tax relief.
That is why serious reduction in the national debt can only be accomplished if policy makers on both sides agree to make spending cuts the primary focus. However, revenues can and should be part of the solution. During negotiations last year, I wrote to members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction encouraging them to seek revenue increases as the natural byproduct of effective broad-based tax reform and pro-growth financial policies.
What we cannot allow is for the federal government to follow the lead of lawmakers in Springfield by adopting massive tax increases today on an empty promise of balanced budgets and reduced spending down the road. Rather than catching up on its bills, Illinois has fallen deeper into debt while more businesses and jobs leave the state. Meanwhile, taxpayers have seen their paychecks shrink. That's not an acceptable outcome.