America has faced many major crises during its 235 years of existence, but none as dangerous as the spiraling debt now confronting us.
This year the federal government will spend $3.8 trillion. For every dollar spent, 40 cents of that dollar will be borrowed. Put another way, the Treasury Department has to borrow more than $4 billion dollars every day. That’s more than Idaho’s annual budget! That borrowing is real and it takes place every day. I physically went to the Treasury to watch and it is frightening to see.
This spending of money we do not have must end.
I opposed the last two continuing resolutions (CR) to keep government operating for two and three weeks respectively and have also opposed virtually all government spending. I do not do this because I want to shut the government down, but because we must adopt a real and comprehensive plan to live within our means now while working our way out of debt over the long term.
Many here in Congress were pleased with the cuts they made in each CR. But the $10 billion cuts equal only about two and a half days of borrowing! While I appreciate any cuts, the actual size of those made is miniscule and gives the misleading appearance that something is actually being done.
So how do we create a plan to cut spending?
First, the President must take a leadership role in the discussion. To date, he has not. His leadership cannot be lip service, but must be a hands-on, serious approach to deficit reduction.
In mid-March, 64 U.S. Senators signed a letter to the president asking him to engage. So far, there has been no response. In fact, he has not even given an enthusiastic embrace to the plan adopted by his own deficit reduction commission. Without his engagement, little will happen.
Second, the approach must be bipartisan and wide-ranging. A comprehensive deficit-reduction package needs to include not only discretionary spending cuts, but also entitlement and tax reform. We must also cut the waste and bloat that has crept into our defense spending.
A bipartisan effort to accomplish that has begun with a small group of senior senators that includes our own Senator Mike Crapo.
Finally, in order to avoid a collapse like Greece (our numbers are worse than theirs, in many respects), Idahoans must be prepared for the harsh reality that cuts will likely occur to their favorite program or institution. We have no choice but to look at every program. Without it our government is doomed to fail and our economy cannot recover.
It is past time we put our fiscal house in order and reduce the $46,000 of debt each of us owes today.