Last week marked a regrettable milestone for our nation. For the first time in American history the national debt surpassed $16 trillion. That is equal to nearly $51,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States. Not only is this staggering figure another jarring reminder of the cost of the Obama Administration's failed policies, it also has serious implications for the future of our country.
The President likes to talk of the need to reduce our budget deficit and pay down the debt, but the debt has grown by more than $5 trillion since he took office and under his most recent budget plan the national debt would continue to rise by another $9 trillion dollars in the next ten years. This unprecedented level of government spending, which was in the name of jumpstarting our economy, has had the opposite effect. It has resulted in four straight years with the budget deficit over $1 trillion while the national unemployment rate remains high. In fact, unemployment has been at or above 8 percent for 43 consecutive months.
It is these policies that have put us on the path to debt and decline, and if we are going to turn our economy around and create jobs we must address this problem now, not further down the road. Spending and borrowing more will only push our economy off the fiscal cliff. In fact, just a day after the national debt surpassed $16 trillion, the World Economic Forum (WEF) released their latest rankings of the world's most competitive economies. For the fourth year in a row the U.S. has declined in global competitiveness meaning that while the U.S. is still the largest economy we are by no means the strongest, with countries like Switzerland, Germany and Singapore coming in ahead of the U.S. Concerns over the fiscal health of our nation were specifically cited for the continued downgrade of the U.S. in the rankings.
The World Economic Forum is not alone. Economists from across our country agree that in these challenging economic times it is even more important for government to control spending. They continue to highlight the need to reduce the debt as a way to increase the investor and consumer confidence that will help unleash entrepreneurship and investment and get Americans back to work.
That is why I have consistently voted for the tightest budgets offered each year, supported legislation that cuts spending immediately and have been a long time advocate of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In fact, on the first day of this Congress I introduced bipartisan legislation to create such an amendment, and I remain committed to promoting this legislation as a common sense solution to curb America's growing debt.
The time is now and the decisions are tough, but balancing the budget and making meaningful spending cuts is the only way to ensure the future growth of our economy.