Our nation’s debt is more than $17 trillion. This is a serious problem. The interest alone on the debt is more than $200 billion a year. This is more money than the federal government spends on transportation, education and veterans combined.
Having this much debt jeopardizes the future of important programs like Social Security and Medicare and is a hidden tax on our kids and grandkids. Instead of investing in economic growth and our nation’s future, they will be paying down the debt on the money we spent.
It also threatens our national security. Much of our debt is held by foreign countries, some of whom do not share our values.
It is important that we act in a fiscally responsible way while protecting programs like Social Security and Medicare, supporting job creation and also tackling our national debt. That is why I have fought for pay-as-you-go budgeting (PAYGO). PAYGO ensures that the bills that Congress passes do not increase our debt. It requires that any spending increases or tax cuts be offset by cutting spending or increasing revenues. PAYGO was part of the reason we had a budget surplus in the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, in 2002 Congress allowed PAYGO to expire. This, along with two wars, tax cuts and a new prescription drug program – all of which were unpaid for, coupled with the worst recession since the Great Depression, is part of the reason why our nation’s debt is so large today.
We have to take a fair and balanced approach to reducing our debt. That means cutting spending, asking everyone to pay their fair share and growing our economy.
We have to take a hard look at everything to make sure taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck. We have to get rid of programs that aren’t needed, and if a program is needed we must make sure it’s running as efficiently as possible. During this review, everything needs to be on the table, including defense spending. The best and strongest national defense doesn’t have to be the most expensive national defense.
We have to make sure everyone pays their fair share. There is a growing gap between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of us. Since the 2008 financial crisis, the wealthiest one percent of Americans took home one-fifth of the income earned by all Americans. And, from 2009 to 2012, the top percent have seen their incomes grow by more than 31 percent while the rest of us have seen our incomes grow by less than one-half of one percent. This isn’t sustainable. To get our fiscal house in order, we have to reform our tax structure so that everyone plays by the same rules and everyone pays their fair share.
And we have to invest in creating jobs and growing our economy. More jobs and growth will mean higher household incomes and more revenue to help get our nation out of the red.
As your representative in Congress I will continue working to solve our fiscal crisis through a balanced approach that cuts spending, requires fairness and encourages economic growth.