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U.S. National Debt:

More Than 1,100 Days And Counting

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Every American family and business has to develop a budget.  The President offered a budget.  Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives offered budgets.  Republicans in the U.S. Senate have introduced several budgets.  Yet, three years have passed since the Senate Majority last adopted a budget plan.  The dire need for adoption of a comprehensive plan to take America off the path toward fiscal crisis and put us on a path toward economic growth drove me to join another recent call for actionon a Senate budget.

Recognizing the importance of Congress passing budgets, previous Congresses enacted legislation governing the budget process which set up special protections to prevent a Senate filibuster of the budget.  Further, previous Congresses established a mechanism giving any Senator the right to call for the consideration of any budget on the Senate calendar if majority party leadership fails to call up a budget by the statutory deadline.  With 1,100 days since a budget proposal was last approved by the Senate, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) recently employed this mechanism to give the Senate an opportunity to do its job to pass a fiscal plan.  Unfortunately, enactment of a budget was not achieved, but I will continue to press for the Senate to meet its fiscal responsibility.   

During the last three years of inaction, the nation spent $10.6 trillion and added $4.5 trillion in new gross debt.  Additionally, the President's budget proposal could raise taxes by $2 trillion over the next decade, along with more than $1.2 trillion in spending increases, when the nation is facing an almost $16 trillion national debt.  However, a bipartisan agreement on a budget plan is possible that could curb spending, reform and preserve entitlement programs and reduce tax rates, while raising more revenue through tax reform that spurs economic growth.  I have worked with the Bowles-Simpson Commission and the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Six" that agreed to spending and tax reforms, and continue to work with my colleagues to advance a broad, bipartisan solution. 

Recently-debated budget plans proposed by Republicans contain needed changes to stem deficit spending and comprehensive reforms to our entitlement programs to prevent insolvency and protect the programs for current and future generations.  These budgets also call for comprehensive tax reform, which would take us out of the old paradigm of Congress debating whether to raise or cut taxes.  They would simplify our expensive to comply with, complex, unfair, burdensome, inefficient and anti-competitive tax code.  These proposals would streamline the tax code by reducing all rates and broadening the base, which would unleash economic growth and give American businesses better opportunity to compete globally.  Increased revenue would be a byproduct of this growth.

As we must institute a bipartisan plan to achieve this progress, I also recently joined forty of my Senate colleagues, including Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), in sending a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) expressing deep concern with the nation's fiscal health and the lack of urgency to enact pro-growth policies, especially with $310 billion in tax increases and budget cuts scheduled to hit if Congress and the President do not act by the end of this year.  We must work together now to address these impacts to our economy.     

A bipartisan agreement is possible on a budget plan that could curb spending, reform and preserve entitlement programs, and provide tax reform that spurs economic growth.  We must take action.  We cannot let more time go by without adopting a Senate budget that puts America on a better fiscal path.

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