By Rep. Ken Calvert
Americans are understandably frustrated by the inability of the people they send to Washington, D.C., to produce serious solutions to the many challenges we face as a country.
I serve on the Budget Committee in the House of Representatives and have recently worked with our committee chairman, Paul Ryan, to produce a federal budget that reduces deficits by $4.6 trillion and is a real plan to balance the budget in 10 years.
You can call our budget a lot of things, but you can't say it is not serious.
I'm committed to putting the brakes on our non-sustainable spending levels and improving our fiscal condition in a way that will allow our economy to grow. Our $16 trillion national debt is heading toward $17 trillion and higher if we don't take action.
The House Republican budget stops spending money our federal government doesn't have. The big spending, big government members of Congress have screamed that our budget makes "draconian" cuts to federal programs. Don't fall for their scare tactics.
If we simply follow the current path, spending will increase by 5 percent each year. However, under the House Republican budget, spending increases by 3.4 percent. A balanced budget that achieves savings by reducing the rate of spending increases is not a radical idea -- it's a responsible one. The difference between solvency and disaster is having the discipline to not spend 1.6 percent.
Many people read about numbers like $16 trillion and wonder how the federal government's debt problem affects them personally. Under Obama administration policies, U.S. public debt as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product is more than 70 percent and growing. As we've seen with European nations, there appears to be a tipping point in the public debt-to-GDP ratio. Some experts say 80 percent -- others say 90 percent. Either way at our current rate we are nearing dangerous territory.
What effect does this level of debt in a country have on the economy? All you have to do is look at countries such as Cyprus, Spain and Greece. In the case of Greece you see a depressed environment where the unemployment rate is more than 26 percent; severe austerity cuts and overhauls have gutted worker benefits and the safety net system, harming seniors and the country's poorest populace; taxes on families and businesses have increased at a sharp rate; and divisive and violent social unrest has become commonplace. Most recently we've seen a proposal to bail out Cyprus banks that would raid the savings accounts of its population.
Leadership, and a little sacrifice, here at home today will help us avoid the hell that has become commonplace in these countries.
In addition to keeping our deficits from overwhelming our economy, the House Republican budget calls for a process to enact a major reform of our tax code that will create more simplified and flatter rates. Together, these policies will enable economic growth and promote job creation.
The other threat to our economy and national debt is the rising cost of health care. The House Republican budget protects and strengthens Medicare and Social Security for current and future generations by making necessary reforms that will ensure these popular programs are maintained for all Americans.
Our budget stops the $716 billion Obamacare raid on Medicare and prevents it from going broke by giving future beneficiaries a range of insurance plans they can choose from, including traditional Medicare, and supporting their premiums. Those who pretend that "not touching" these programs somehow protects them are either fooling themselves or trying to fool the American people.
The House Republican budget aims to help struggling Americans by putting a stop to the status quo programs and policies that simply aren't working.
Fortunately, after being prodded along, the Senate is joining the House in this conversation after a nearly four-year absence.
There is no doubt that we face difficult decisions in Washington. Despite the challenge, we owe it to the American people, both this generation and the next, to grow jobs, not federal budgets, and to expand liberty, not the reach of federal bureaucrats.
Ken Calvert, R-Corona, represents the 42nd District in the U.S. House of Representatives.