April 21, 2010


By Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

"We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt"
-Thomas Jefferson, July 12, 1816

"No pecuniary consideration is more urgent, than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt"
-George Washington, December 3, 1793

"The principle of spending money, to be paid by posterity under the name funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale"
-Thomas Jefferson, May 28, 1816

In mid-March, I was appointed by the Republican leadership in the Senate to serve on the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. This Commission was created by President Obama to "identify policies" to improve the federal government's fiscal situation. It has been tasked with making recommendations to the President and Congress on ways to address the public debt and the widening federal budget deficit, an important task indeed.

The first meeting of the Commission will be held on April 27th at the White House. Further meetings of the full Commission will be held each month, with an advance notice published in the Federal Register. Each meeting of the full Commission will be streamed live on the White House website and members of the public will have the opportunity to submit written comments to the Commission. The Commission is required to submit its recommendations to Congress by December 1st.

A bipartisan effort to reduce the debt must focus on the principal reason we accrued the debt, and that is the explosion in federal spending. This Commission has a historic opportunity to deal with some of our nation's most pressing problems using common-sense solutions. We can make debt reduction real and sustainable if we prioritize and reduce federal spending and do not increase taxes. We should also examine how to cut fraud, abuse and duplication in many federal programs. The only way to pay down our unsustainable debt is by spending less than the government takes in taxes from the American people. In doing so, we will restore the economic engine in this country and provide the job creation that is so necessary for economic vitality.

The Congressional Budget Office's estimate of the President's most recent budget request estimates that the public debt will increase from 63 percent of GDP in 2010 to 90 percent in 2020. Entitlement programs and debt payments alone already constitute 60 percent of all federal outlays and that figure is projected to grow to 75 percent in the next few years.

We cannot continue to borrow our way out of this nightmare scenario. It has been estimated that our economy would have to grow at double-digit levels for 75 years just to close the debt gap. So, we cannot tax and spend our way out this problem. Clearly, the problem is not that taxes are too low; the problem is unrestrained spending.

We must eliminate our debt and deficit. I have strong hope that this Commission will find a way to accomplish this priority for the American people. I agreed to serve on this Commission in order to make the tough recommendations that are necessary to put our fiscal house in order. This Commission should not be used as a political tool to justify raising taxes on the American people. In addressing the country's debt and deficit, we will bring more economic security and stability to American families and provide stronger job growth in our country. I intend to work fully on this Commission to explore a broad range of options that will bring truly sustainable deficit reduction and help us as a nation to retire our national debt. For more on the federal debt and deficit, please go to http://crapo.senate.gov.

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