The American people have to balance their own budgets; the federal government should do the same. That commitment is at the heart of the budget Senate Republicans unveiled last week. It not only achieves balance, it does so while creating an environment in which more Americans have the opportunity to get ahead.
That’s a big change from what we’ve seen the last six years.
Every year of the Obama presidency, the federal government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars more than it brought in from taxes, and those massive yearly deficits add up. In the past six years of his administration, President Obama has added a staggering $7 trillion to the national debt. That’s $56,000 in new debt per American household. By the end of his presidency, President Obama will have added nearly as much debt as every previous president in the history of the country — combined.
Washington’s insistence on spending far more money than it takes in every year has real consequences for the American people. As the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has repeatedly warned, higher government debt means lower economic growth and fewer jobs.
This sluggish growth is hitting the American people where it hurts the most — right in our wallets. President Obama insists the economy is back on track, but people aren’t feeling it — and for good reason. Wages are flat, or even declining, while costs — for health care, food, education — are rising. The middle-class squeeze is very real. Not only have middle-class families seen their incomes drop by an average of 8 percent since the recession began, but half of that decline occurred under President Obama after the experts declared a “recovery” in 2009. Even adjusting for the severity of the recent recession, this has been the weakest recovery since the 1940s.
If we are going to turn things around, we need policies to end the red ink and put in place the kind of tax, regulatory, health-care, and other reforms that encourage economic growth and better jobs.
The Republican budget passes that test. It streamlines federal agencies, cuts waste, and makes our government more efficient and effective. It repeals Obamacare and calls for sensible health-care reforms to bring down costs and make health insurance more affordable for all.
Whereas President Obama’s budget expands government with new programs and more bureaucracy, our budget’s commonsense reforms save taxpayers $5 trillion over ten years. Whereas President Obama’s budget raises taxes by $2 trillion — resulting in the highest income-tax burden on American families in our nation’s history — our budget doesn’t raise taxes but calls for job-creating tax reform.
You’ve tightened your belt; now it’s Washington’s turn. Whereas President Obama’s budget never balances and adds nearly $8 trillion in new debt over the next decade, our budget balances in ten years.
I think we have all learned that you cannot tax-and-spend, or borrow-and-spend, your way to prosperity. Under Obama these approaches have resulted in a weak recovery, stagnant wages, and a bloated government debt, with interest costs alone that will add up to more than $5 trillion over the next decade.
The problems we face will not be solved by more of the same — more spending, more taxes, more debt. It will come from stopping deficit spending and adopting more effective and efficient government policies to unleash the innovation, hard work, and God-given potential of the American people. That should be our goal, and the Republican budget will help take us there.
— Rob Portman is a U.S. senator from Ohio.