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U.S. National Debt:

Weekly Column: Sensible Principles For Balancing The Budget

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

This year, I am again co-sponsoring a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.  As I re-read the bill prior to its reintroduction, I was reminded of the common phrase, “it goes without saying.”  One would think this commonsense bill was unnecessary, or in other words, “it should go without legislating.”  Unfortunately, it seems the federal government needs reminding to do what should be done and pass a balanced budget.  

The Biden Administration’s economic policies of the last two years have made life unaffordable for many Idaho families.  Unrestrained federal spending has led to the highest inflation in 40 years, leaving Idaho families to deal with grocery, gas and electricity prices that have soared since Joe Biden took office.  As interest rates rise to slow the multi-decade-high inflation unleashed by the Biden Administration, the cost in dollars of servicing that debt will also rise.  Having to spend more money to pay for past borrowing means we will have fewer resources to preserve our national defense, maintain our social safety net and invest in future economic growth. 

We must address our growing deficits to put our country’s finances on a sustainable path.  I have long supported a balanced budget amendment that would go a long way toward reining in runaway federal spending.  This balanced budget amendment, also co-sponsored by fellow U.S. Senator for Idaho Jim Risch, proposes a constitutional amendment that would require the President to submit a balanced budget and Congress to pass a balanced budget. 

Similarly, I also joined in introducing the Zero Based Budget Act, introduced by Senator Risch.  This legislation would require federal agencies to justify their spending levels.  It would require all expenses within an agency to be analyzed and approved by Congress every six years, and the legislation would mandate agencies recommend funding cuts of at least two percent.  The U.S. Department of Defense and the National Nuclear Security Administration would be exempted from the legislation. 

President Biden once again missed the deadline (first Monday of February) for submitting the Administration’s annual budget request to Congress.  Submitting it roughly a month late just pushes back the timeline for deliberately putting the federal budget together and setting the stage for annual appropriations.  Further complicating matters, the President’s solution for addressing our debt and deficit is again unrealistic--raise taxes and spend more.  Revenues are not the problem.  Spending is the problem. 

We must enable hardworking Idaho taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned incomes.  We also need dedication at all levels of the federal government to truly buckle down and get our fiscal house in order.  It starts with meeting required deadlines and thoughtfully considering the many ideas that have been put forward to address our debt situation.  The Balanced Budget Act and related legislation, such as the Zero Based Budget Act, are a good place to start.  Idahoans live within their means, and it is far past time for the federal government to do the same. 

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