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Wicker: America's $16 Trillion Debt Represents Failure of Presidential Leadership


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The signs of a lasting economic recovery have yet to emerge after nearly four years of the Obama Administration. The country's economic growth hovers at a near-standstill, and millions of Americans remain without work.

Rather than implementing solutions, President Obama has worsened a tough economic situation with a big-government agenda. Under his watch, the national debt has reached an unprecedented $16 trillion. To put this into perspective, spending a dollar every second for 32,000 years would only amount to $1 trillion -- a fraction of the federal debt.

The Problem With High Debt

American taxpayers are ready for an honest debate about the drastic rise of government spending. The President's costly policies and failure to seriously address the debt crisis continue to burden the struggling economy. His unsuccessful $1 trillion stimulus and health-care overhaul are troubling examples of reckless spending and unfulfilled promises.

Concerns about the impact of high government debt are widespread. Economists and business leaders have already noted its drag on economic growth. Adm. Michael G. Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said debt is America's top national security threat.

Comparing the federal debt to gross domestic product (GDP) helps to illustrate the magnitude of our fiscal situation. The total national debt is now more than 100 percent of GDP. This means our debt exceeds all the goods and services that the U.S. economy produces in one year.

More Broken Promises

In 2009, President Obama was quick to condemn the nation's debt dilemma, pledging to cut the annual deficit in half by the end of his first term.

Instead, the President's rhetoric has not become reality. Federal deficits have topped $1 trillion every year that President Obama has been in office. In just one term, the national debt has skyrocketed by an extraordinary $5.4 trillion.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the current economic outlook is worse than previously thought. Unless fiscally responsible measures are put in place, the country's sluggish economic growth and chronic joblessness will persist. Delaying action only perpetuates uncertainty in the market -- hampering job creators' ability to grow and hire.

Putting Debt Reduction Into Practice

Mississippians know that better leadership and pro-growth strategies are necessary to solve the difficult fiscal challenges ahead. Cutting spending, keeping tax rates low, and meaningful entitlement reform are important ways to start.

Families and businesses in our state understand what it takes to live within a budget, and they are right to demand that the federal government do the same. More than 1,300 days have passed since Senate Democrats have fulfilled a basic congressional obligation and passed a federal budget. The President's own fiscal blueprint for more spending, taxing, and borrowing was rejected by every Republican and Democrat in Congress earlier this year.

Ignoring the severity of America's $16 trillion debt will not make it go away. Americans are ready for sensible and effective action, and it is time for members of both parties to work to make debt reduction happen.

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