Guest column submitted by U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-Oklahoma)
Our debt crisis is a threat to not just our way of life, but our national survival. History has not been kind to great nations who borrowed and spent beyond their means. Doing nothing will, sooner rather than later, guarantee that this nation becomes a second-rate power with less opportunity and less freedom. The plan developed by the debt commission, while flawed and incomplete, will help America avoid this fate and secure freedom for future generations.
The time for action is now. We can't afford to wait until the next election to begin this process. Long before the skyrocketing cost of entitlements cause our national debt to triple and tax rates to double, our economy may collapse under the weight of this burden. We are already near a precipice. In the near future, we could experience a collapse in the value of the dollar, hyperinflation or other consequences that would force Congress to face a set of choices far more painful than those proposed in this plan.
This plan will not just avert a disaster, but help drive the kind of economic recovery we need to create jobs and spur growth. The plan's provisions to lower tax rates while creating fairness in the tax code are similar to pro-growth policies supported by President Reagan. The plan also reduces discretionary spending and takes meaningful steps to preserve Social Security. Taking steps now to reduce our debt burden and slow unsustainable entitlement spending can help prevent massive and debilitating tax increases in the future. Finally, all of these steps will send a clear signal to investors that America is serious about getting its fiscal house in order.
Still, the plan does not do nearly enough to address the crisis in health care spending. Eighty percent of our debt problem comes from Medicare. This proposal takes some helpful steps in the area of health reform, such as repealing the CLASS Act and reforming the Sustainable Growth Rate (the "doc-fix"), but Congress has to address Medicare's unfunded liabilities more aggressively. We also have to repeal the misguided health care law we passed last year, which will make our debt crisis even more severe.
The real choice facing Congress and the American people, however, is not whether to support the commission's recommendations, but whether we will rediscover the wisdom of our founders and apply the principles of limited government written into our Constitution. The debt problem is almost entirely the consequence of growing government far beyond our founders' intent. This plan is merely a down payment that will begin the process of reforming government at all levels.
As we begin this process with this plan, or a better plan, everyone in America should be prepared to sacrifice, beginning with politicians in Washington. Everything has to be on the table. There can be no sacred cows. Our oath to the Constitution must trump our oaths to parties, interest groups and ideology. This challenge is a matter of national survival but we know America has faced great challenges before and emerged stronger and more prosperous. The good news is all of these problems can be solved. If we act now in the spirit of service and sacrifice that built this country, we can create a future that honors the tremendous sacrifice that came before us.
You can learn more about the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform report and related information at Senator Crapo's website: http://crapo.senate.gov/issues/taxes/FiscalCommission.cfm. Over the next few weeks, additional updates regarding this issue will be provided.
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