Last week President Obama asked Congress for $1.2 trillion in additional borrowing authority and Congress recently had the opportunity to respond to the President’s request.
Since the President took office, the national debt has increased $4.6 trillion. The current federal debt now exceeds the U.S. gross domestic product. And our federal government is borrowing more than 30 cents of every dollar it spends and in recent years that has been as high as 40 cents of every dollar it spends.
The President’s most recent request of a $1.2 trillion increase will bring the debt limit to $16.394 trillion.
Yet despite this fiscal outlook -- Admiral Mullen, the recently retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has rightly called the national debt “the single biggest threat to our national security" -- President Obama and some in Congress still refuse to make the difficult, long-term spending choices necessary to begin restoring fiscal discipline to the federal budget.
The President publicly opposed a Balanced Budget Amendment -- an idea about which Thomas Jefferson said, “I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government.”
The House of Representatives in a majority fashion passed a Balanced Budget Amendment late last year. Unfortunately it did not receive a two-thirds vote here as the Constitution requires and I hope that we can revisit that issue.
President Obama has failed to put forth a credible budget plan that reigns in runaway federal entitlement spending that is the single biggest contributor toward our long-term fiscal problems.
When the President releases his budget proposal for fiscal year 2013 in a few weeks, he has another opportunity to propose real spending caps and entitlement program reforms. I hope he will seize the opportunity to do so. I commend to the President’s attention and to the Administration’s attention for example Chairman Ryan’s budget proposal and we would like to work in good faith with the Administration and with the President to make sure that we move forward in a fiscally responsible way.
But the debt limit debate is about leadership and making tough choices.
The Governor of the State of New Jersey, my friend, Chris Christie, said last year, “Leadership today in America has to be about doing the big things."
When given the opportunity to lead on issues concerning levels of spending, debt and deficits, I urge President Obama to join with us in doing the big things to make sure that we can get our fiscal house in order: A glide path back toward fiscal responsibility, toward balancing our budget over time. We need to restore that fiscal discipline in Washington, instead of choosing the fiscally perilous path of more spending, larger annual deficits and mounting debt. The next generation will have to pay back this debt. It is a tremendous burden on young people and it will sap our strength in the continuing competition of the United States with nations around the world including, for example, China and India.
I opposed the President’s request for an additional $1.2 trillion in spending. I hope that we can work together with the Administration on this fundamental issue, the issue that confronts the Nation of fiscal responsibility. May the United States be restored to fiscal responsibility so that future generations might succeed as generations have succeeded generation in and generation out, the great promise of the American Nation.
Congressman Leonard Lance represents New Jersey’s Seventh District in the United States Congress.