Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo, Ranking Member of U.S. Senate Finance Committee
“Throughout our nation’s history, Americans have found the courage to do right by our children’s future. Deep down, every American knows we face a moment of truth once again. We cannot play games or put off hard choices any longer. Without regard to party, we have a patriotic duty to keep the promise of America to give our children and grandchildren a better life.
“Our challenge is clear and inescapable: America cannot be great if we go broke. Our businesses will not be able to grow and create jobs, and our workers will not be able to compete successfully for the jobs of the future without a plan to get this crushing debt burden off our backs.” – Excerpts from the preamble to the report of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform
More than a dozen years ago, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle signed our names to this preamble. We knew then, as we know now, that our national debt is one of the biggest threats our nation faces. The difference now is the President of the United States has so far refused to even begin the difficult discussions merited by the situation.
Last week, the United States hit its staggering spending cap of $31.4 trillion. Economists say the U.S. is likely to reach the drop-dead date to pay its bills later this summer. The clock is ticking, and it is time for the White House to engage in serious, bipartisan conversations.
Over just the last two years, an additional $5 trillion in massive spending sprees has passed in the name of a pandemic that was already waning. In fiscal year 2022, the federal government paid $475 billion in net interest expense. This sum marked an almost 35 percent increase from previous years. 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.
Now is the time for spending reform proposals to be put forward and debated. We must address our growing deficits in order to put the United States’ finances on a sustainable path. Leaving our growing debt unchecked makes us a weaker nation because it makes us less able to address future crises. 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.
Many ideas have been put forward to address our debt situation, including some that have been explored, and in some cases agreed to, in past negotiations. We should not draw lines in the sand or dismiss any option out of hand, but instead seriously discuss the tradeoffs of proposals. That is governing.
Asking the White House to come to the table and negotiate is not an extremist demand, and refusal to even discuss how our federal government could live within its means is irresponsible. Both parties have a responsibility to do their part, in good faith, to find a bipartisan solution.
While we need to pay our old bills, this is the time to set a path forward to ensure new bills do not continue to pile up. America’s long-term fiscal gap is unsustainable. We have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to leave them a government and an economy that are on sound financial footing.
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This guest column ran on FoxNews.Com.