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U.S. National Debt:

Presidential Debt Commission Meets For First Time

Crapo sees spending as main problem

Washington, D.C. - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and fellow members of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform met for the first time today at the White House. The 18-member commission, called for by President Obama, will work on bipartisan ideas to restore fiscal stability and reduce a public debt that totals nearly $13 trillion, and is projected to continue to grow exponentially in the coming decades.

Crapo told Commission members that federal spending is the largest issue. He said, historically, federal spending has been about 19 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Federal spending is now at 24.7 percent of the GDP and is projected to rise to 25.2 percent by the year 2020. On the other hand, revenues to the government have averaged about 18.2 percent of GDP, and have only exceeded 20 percent one time in the last 40 years.

"I am looking forward to working with each of you on a task that is critically important to the American people," Crapo said. "We are on an unsustainable course. Frankly, the American people have this figured out and have had it figured out for a long time.

"The math just doesn't equate. We are spending far more than we are bringing in in revenue. We are mounting unsustainable debt and deficits that will cause the same kinds of impacts that we have heard from our witnesses today.

"If we don't get a handle on this we're going to see interest rates go up, foreign borrowing go up, higher taxes, and disincentives to save and invest. Our policy options will be fewer the longer we take as a nation to deal with this issue. We will crowd out capital and see a resulting collapse of the dollar and the economic slump that will follow.

"We have to be open-minded, bipartisan and fair, and look at every option that is necessary to help us get there. That being said, I'm one of those who believes our country is spending far in excess of our capacity. A significant part of the solution will be found on the spending side of the ledger.

"I'm willing to reform our tax code. That debate should not result in tax increases, but could result in a simpler, more effective tax code.

"We need to look under every rock, not just the low-hanging fruit. We have a unique opportunity to really do something that makes a huge difference for this country."

Crapo's remarks are available on his YouTube site at The Commission is co-chaired by former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former U.S. Senator from Wyoming Alan Simpson.