By Iowa Congressman Tom Latham
Common sense dictates that we must deal with the nation’s massive debt. When faced with a problem on a scale as massive as our country’s $14 trillion debt, the most effective strategy is to deal with the problem at its source. That means addressing the out-of-control spending binge that has erupted in Washington over the course of the last few years. To do this, we need a plan that combines spending cuts with permanent changes to how Washington spends your tax dollars.
But it would also be irresponsible for us not to ensure that this type of crisis never again threatens the economic stability of this nation or her people. The House of Representatives will take bold action on the debt crisis by considering legislation that cuts spending in the short term, caps it in the long term and requires Congress to approve a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution before it can approve any increase in the debt ceiling. This is a common-sense solution that not only addresses the crisis but also comprehensively changes the way Washington works.
If signed into law, the legislation — titled the Cut, Cap and Balance Act — will put our country on a path toward fiscal responsibility. Rampant spending has driven the national debt to the point of crisis, and the Cut, Cap and Balance Act is a common-sense solution that will save our children and grandchildren from a future of bankruptcy.
The legislation contains three major components. First, it cuts total spending in Fiscal Year 2012 by $111 billion, ratcheting back spending to below 2008 pre-bailout, pre-stimulus levels. Next, it institutes spending caps that will keep spending levels near their historic average of about 20 percent of gross domestic product by 2021. Current spending has ballooned to about 23 percent of GDP, exacerbating the debt crisis. Finally, the Cut, Cap and Balance Act requires passage of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution in order to raise the debt limit. I voted for a balanced budget amendment in 1995 in one of my first votes in Congress. Such a measure would set in stone the principle of fiscal restraint and would bar the government from spending money it doesn’t have.
In addition to co-sponsoring this legislation, I signed a pledge last week to oppose any measure to raise the country’s debt limit without passage of the major features outlined in the Cut, Cap and Balance Act. Any proposal to raise the debt ceiling without substantial cuts, enforceable spending caps and House and Senate approval of a balanced budget amendment will not receive my vote – period.
The Cut, Cap and Balance Act under consideration in the House is a solution to the fiscal mess that will make real changes to how Washington spends taxpayer dollars. The federal debt has skyrocketed past the point of crisis. A problem of this scope requires a real solution that addresses the crisis at its root. The Cut, Cap and Balance plan will take immediate action to control spending and save the American Dream from its current path towards extinction.
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