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U.S. National Debt:

Our Country Faces Serious Challenges

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

I watched President Obama's State of the Union speech interested to see what his view is on the current condition of our nation and the challenges he plans to address in the weeks and months ahead.  President Obama's current economic approach seems to include adding to the tax and spending increases that have caused much of our nation's serious challenges.  His comments about his plans to use executive power to bypass Congress if Congress does not enact the policies he recommends are a step in the wrong direction.  We must break the gridlock in Washington, but we also need to change the course in Washington.  Our nation needs a work-together, not a partisan go-it-alone, approach to address our debt crisis, reform the burdensome tax and spending policies and grow our economy.  

We must focus harder on our massive national debt.  Now at a staggering $17 trillion, this level of debt is irresponsible, unacceptable, and quite frankly, dangerous.  An overwhelming majority of voters want the president and Congress to spend more time addressing the national debt, and while modest progress in cutting discretionary spending has been made over the last few years, these cuts still fall woefully short in addressing our country's deteriorating fiscal picture.  Our focus should be on implementing true reforms that fix our broken tax code, stop the federal spending machine and control the explosion of regulations that are choking our economy. 

Thousands of Americans are struggling to find work, and many have given up looking altogether.  Now is not the time to double down on Washington's tax and spend mentality.  Jobs are created in the private sector by shrinking government and getting Washington out of the way.  Starting construction on the shovel-ready Keystone XL pipeline project, overhauling the train wreck in our health care system and passing trade-related bills are all actions that could quickly be taken and would lead to positive economic growth. 

Lowering the tax burden on Americans should be a top priority of this administration and Congress that would spur economic growth and job creation.  There is large bipartisan support for comprehensively reforming our tax code, but 'reform' should not be mistaken for endless increases in taxes on hard-working Idahoans.  True reform means simplifying the tax code by eliminating its vast complexities and lowering the rates for all individuals, families and businesses.

Many Idahoans are among the millions of Americans who have lost health care coverage and are facing much higher premiums due to the health care law.  Repealing and replacing the failed policies with achievable reforms that result in affordable health care coverage and improved access to quality care is what people want and deserve.

Our country will continue to face serious challenges in the months and years ahead.  These challenges might seem daunting, but the solutions are achievable.  Now is the time for cooperation, not polarization and executive actions.  We must work together to put the United States on a sustainable, prosperous path for current and future generations.

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