In 2006, then-Senator Obama said when he voted against raising the debt ceiling: “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure … America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.” I could not agree more with the president. Over the past two and a half years, the Obama administration has spent almost $4 trillion of borrowed money while costing our economy more than 2 million American jobs.
Last week, the House put forth and passed the bipartisan Cut, Cap, and Balance Act to cut spending, avoid any type of default, and solve our nation’s debt crisis. Yet Senate Democrats blocked this common-sense solution, the only plan on the table, and President Obama threatened to veto it, walking away from their responsibility to lead and offering no real solution in the debt-ceiling debate. House Republicans represent only one out of three elected levers of government, and the White House and Senate Democrats have continuously proven unwilling to work with us to cut spending and restrain the future growth of our government.
Speaker John Boehner and House Republican leaders have continued the fight by offering a two-step plan to cut spending and preserve the full faith and credit of the United States. It is another responsible effort by Speaker Boehner to put our economy back on a path towards fiscal sanity.
The plan adheres to the criteria initially put forth in the House-passed Cut, Cap, and Balance Act. It makes spending cuts that are larger than any debt ceiling increase, implements spending caps to restrain future spending and it requires the House and Senate to vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment — without enacting job-crushing tax increases on families and job creators. The first part of the two-step plan is a short-term solution that allows for a $1 trillion debt ceiling increase and cuts and caps discretionary spending immediately, while saving $1.2 trillion in federal spending.
The second part creates a Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction that is required to produce legislation by November 23 to reduce the deficit by at least $1.8 trillion over ten years and protects programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security from bankruptcy. The committee will be comprised of six members of the House and six senators with Democrats and Republicans equally represented from each chamber. If Congress successfully passes the committee’s proposal by an up-or-down, simple-majority vote without any amendments, then the president would be authorized to request an additional debt limit increase of $1.6 trillion — holding President Obama accountable.
An additional element of the plan is a Balanced Budget Amendment vote. It’s time Washington was forced to finally live within its means and cut up the credit cards. Every American family and 49 out of 50 states currently abide by some form of a balanced-budget requirement. If they can make the hard choices to pay their bills and live within their means, then Washington should too. The time to act is now. We must have an immediate vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment so that we can solve America’s debt problems once and for all.
Unlike the eleventh-hour plan from Senate Majority Leader Reid and Senate Democrats and the non-existent plan from the White House, the House Republican plan is serious about cutting spending. It may not be the perfect plan, but it is the result of negotiations with Senate Democrats and it heeds worries by credit rating agencies to prevent a default, which could devastate the economy. Our debt crisis is a result of Washington spending money it does not have and leaving American taxpayers with the growing tab – which the president calls “shared sacrifice.”
As a former business leader and entrepreneur, I have firsthand experience signing paychecks and helping to create hundreds of good-paying American jobs. I know that American families and employers will suffer from a higher tax burden under the president’s proposed tax increases, further limiting their ability to invest, expand and hire. Passing a Balanced Budget Amendment is the best way to stop Washington from blank-check spending and would bring much-needed certainty to job creators.
By racking up $14.3 trillion in debt, every American child born today already owes more than $46,000 to our creditors. The House Republican plan allows us to pay our bills, avoid a default and make fundamental changes to the federal government so that we may save the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.
— Rep. Bill Flores (R., Texas) is a former businessman, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and serves on the House Budget Committee.