Morning Bell: Time to Shrink the Monster
by Josh Shepherd, Heritage Foundation, May 28, 2013
Does the debt ceiling affect YOU? It does—in many ways.
A new video by Bankrupting America uses humor to call attention to an issue that is anything but funny, and why it matters for every American household.
Recent Heritage research reveals how the rising national debt hurts American families, including:
- Higher interest rates on mortgages, car loans, and other loans make it more costly for families and businesses to borrow money.
- Higher debt and higher interest rates mean more tax dollars must be used to pay the government’s interest expense, leaving less money available for other priorities like national security and making it harder to keep future taxes from rising.
- Less economic growth means fewer jobs, lower wages and salaries, and fewer opportunities for career advancement.
Over the next few weeks, Members of Congress will be deciding what their priorities for spending reduction will be in connection with any vote to increase the debt ceiling sometime this fall. The debt ceiling vote likely presents the best opportunity for real spending restraint this year.
Anyone following the shocking IRS scandal has fresh and frightening evidence of the dangers of a massive, over-reaching, highly intrusive federal government. This is yet another reason to cut spending: Washington has a problem respecting fiscal sense and citizens’ freedoms.
The first step to solving it? Shrink the monster down to size with real spending cuts.
It’s a goal many claim to work toward, yet few seem committed to achieving. Choices presented by the debt limit debate can force both parties to trim down the federal budget—if they don’t get sidetracked.
HOLDING THE LINE: There are refreshing examples of principled leadership among members of Congress committed to getting spending under control. Currently, Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Mike Lee (R-UT) are working hard to prevent any backdoor effort to increase the debt limit without spending cuts.
When it comes to holding the line on new spending, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and five other Senators recently announced their intention to object to consideration of legislation that spends new money unless it also trims the federal budget in other areas. Their goal is laudable to “no longer spend money we do not have to pay for programs we do not need.”
The secret to controlling spending: To get spending under control, you have to know where the dollars are spent.
Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security make up 45 percent of our national budget, as this recent chart shows. Millions of at-risk citizens depend on these programs, and Congress has yet to take the steps needed to reform and preserve them so they benefit those most in need and are affordable for current and future taxpayers.
To fix entitlements and get spending under control, only certain policy changes will make a difference. Key examples of transformative reforms are outlined generally in the landmark Saving the American Dream plan, and more specifically in “Six Bipartisan Entitlement Reforms to Solve the Real Fiscal Crisis.”
While members of Congress may be tempted to fold on the challenge of getting spending under control, now is the time that they must stand as the leaders they were elected to be and balance the national budget in 10 years.
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