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U.S. National Debt:

Crapo, CBO Agree Serious Debt Issues Ahead

Joins Finance Committee Colleagues in letter to Treasury Secretary on Entitlement Reform

Washington, D.C. - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, a senior member of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, in a letter today, along with other Republican colleagues on the committee, wrote to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew urging him to disclose how long and how great of a debt limit increase the Obama administration is requesting from Congress.  The Senators further called on the administration to immediately launch discussions to combat the nation's long-term debt through concrete, structural entitlement reforms.

"For decades, Congress and various administrations have used the debt limit as an opportunity to confront budget, fiscal and other matters.  This debt limit increase should be viewed similarly - as an opportunity to bring lasting reforms and debt reduction to our nation," wrote the Senators.

The Senators cite a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which makes clear the root of our nation's spending and debt problems.  According to the CBO, "Most of the projected growth in noninterest spending as a share of GDP over the long term is expected to come from the government's major health care programs."  The report notes that, absent reforms, such an increase in spending for these programs would crowd out and ultimately decrease to historically low levels, spending for other programs, including supplemental nutrition assistance and infrastructure funding for roads and bridges.  As such, the Senators write to "ask that the Administration view this debt ceiling discussion as an opportunity to bring lasting changes that the American people deserve so the promise of the American dream is extended not only to them, but their children and grandchildren as well."

Upon sending the letter, Crapo added, "there is no time like the present and the debt limit presents an ideal opportunity to enact structural entitlement reforms to make the programs sustainable for years to come.  At a minimum, a down payment of initial entitlement reforms must be enacted in order to begin the process of bringing sustainable solvency to these programs."

Today's letter was sent by Crapo along with Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), John Cornyn (R-Texas), John Thune (R-South Dakota), Richard Burr (R-North Carolina),  Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania). 

The Senate Finance Committee has jurisdiction over the nation's debt limit.

A copy of the letter is attached.