Taxes & Spending

Balance or Crumble

Death by debt isn’t only a Greek tragedy, it’s downright common. Powerful nations all the way from Rome to Russia have killed their economies by spending more than they had. And, if the American people don’t stage an intervention soon, the United States may do the same.

The federal government will soon be paying more in interest on the national debt than we spend on national defense. The national debt represents 93% of our total gross domestic product (GDP) with foreign governments like China and private entities owning nearly half that debt.

Surely, one of the world’s greatest debtors cannot remain the world’s greatest superpower for long. As the world’s champion of freedom, we cannot afford to be enslaved by those who control our line of credit.

Many have feared our nation slipping toward a European Socialist-style economy, yet today the U.S. wouldn’t even qualify for entry into the European Union which requires a debt-to-GDP ratio of below 60%.

Although the Berlin Wall fell over 20 years ago, freedom is not guaranteed for any country. The prospect of losing freedom is very real, especially to people like Marco Rubio, who’s running to become the next Republican senator from Florida. His parents lost their home country to communism. They fled Cuba without a dollar in their pockets in hopes of finding freedom for their family in the U.S. They did. Today Rubio is fighting to keep this country free for his children.

“The world is a safer place when America is the strongest country in the world,” Rubio has said. “But America’s security relies as much on our economic vitality and power as it does our military and diplomatic strength. Our enemies care as much about our debt as they do about our missiles. And they dream not only of more days like September 11, but also a Greece-like day of reckoning in America.”

Budget Embarrassment
The debt crisis in Greece is ominous and all too close to America. The Democrats have mapped out a future dominated by debt and deficits with no way out. After creating a massive new entitlement program in Obamacare, borrowing another $700 billion on a failed stimulus plan, giving a $787 billion blank check to Treasury under TARP, the Democratic Congress isn’t even bothering to offer a new budget. They don’t want anyone to know how much more they plan to spend.

By all appearances, the White House has given up on budget cuts without even trying. The Associated Press reported that White House Budget Director Peter Orszag recently told the liberal Center for American Progress that if the White House sent Congress a package of budget cuts it would probably “go nowhere.” And President Obama recently asked Congress for tens of billions in new stimulus funds to save the jobs his first stimulus didn’t save.

The Democrats still believe they can spend their way out of the recession. They’re wrong, but they may bankrupt the country proving their critics right. The only way Congress will ever get serious about cutting spending is by adding a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. I introduced a bill to do this last February.

If ratified the amendment would prohibit the federal government from spending more than it collects each year. It would require a two-thirds majority vote to raise taxes. And Congress would be able to waive the balanced-budget requirement with a two-thirds majority only in limited circumstances, like during time of war.

16 GOP Cosponsors
Sixteen Republican senators are cosponsoring the balanced budget amendment: Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.), Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho), Sen. John Ensign (Nev.), Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), Sen. Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Sen. George LeMieux (Fla.), Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), Sen. James Risch (Idaho), Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and Sen. David Vitter (La.).

The balanced-budget amendment, S.J. Res. 27, would be the jurisdiction of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Each of the Republican candidates I’ve endorsed through my Senate Conservatives Fund supports a balanced budget amendment as well.

If politicians are not forced by law to balance the budget, they will continue adding to the deficit by creating new entitlements like ObamaCare, instead of fixing bankrupt programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Greece tried to hide its debt and pay for its out-of-control entitlement programs with borrowed money, rather than making necessary budget cuts. The U.S. government is trying to hide spending and rely on borrowed dollars, too. Even though Americans are becoming increasingly worried about the $13 trillion debt, that’s not all they’re on the hook for. There’s much more debt hidden in unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare—more than $100 trillion. But don’t expect President Obama to mention that figure anytime soon.

The debt could be deadly to our nation’s future, but it’s not yet a death sentence. America can recover if honest conservative leaders are willing to deliver this message to Americans: The government must do less, not more, if we want to save our country.

John Adams, Founding Father and second American President, was a wise man, but I desperately hope he was wrong about one thing. Adams once said: “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

Our exceptional country has avoided this dire fate so far, but if there’s not a strong intervention by the American people in November—voting in new members ready to vote for a balanced-budget amendment—Adams could be right after all.

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