Politics & Policy

The Bipartisan Budget Deal Demonstrates What’s Wrong with Washington

(Vitalik-sv/Dreamstime)

Each night in America, many parents are having serious discussions after their kids go to bed — and the subjects are usually the same. How will we pay the mortgage? How can we save for our kids’ educations or our own retirement? Will we be able to take a vacation next summer? Why is everything getting more expensive while our take-home pay seems to stay the same?

Unfortunately, Congress has once again wasted an opportunity to address the runaway spending and growing government that add to the pervasive uncertainty many American families and job creators feel about the future. Instead, outdated leaders in both parties have heaped another massive sum of burdensome debt on the shoulders of our people and our free-enterprise economy. Washington’s latest spending deal is awful because it will kill jobs, hurt struggling families, and saddle future generations with trillions of dollars in debt from countries that do not like us — and all for a government we cannot afford.

The deal doesn’t address the long-term drivers of our debt, contains no fundamental reforms to shrink government, and fails to fully fund our military. By suspending the debt limit until March 15, 2017, the deal wastes opportunities to get America’s fiscal house in order. Our $18 trillion debt is too high, and this deal will likely add another $1.5 trillion.

I am also deeply concerned by the Social Security provisions of the agreement. Under the façade of incremental reforms to the disability program, the deal steals $150 billion from Social Security’s retirement account in order to prop up the program for just seven years. We should reform the disability program without relying on budget gimmicks that threaten our retirement security.

The budget deal increases defense spending, but not enough. Providing for the common defense is the first duty of the federal government, and our nation cannot afford to continue weakening our military while threats around the world worsen. Unfortunately, many Republicans also caved to the demands of the Left to increase non-defense spending, which should remain under strict budget caps. The deal is also filled with a slew of budget gimmicks that politicians claim will “reduce the deficit,” but the reality is that much of the alleged savings won’t occur for years — if at all.

#share#This is business as usual for too many Washington politicians in both parties. Some say we don’t have enough bipartisanship in Washington, but in reality, we have an $18 trillion debt that both parties are responsible for. It seems the only thing growing faster than the debt these days is the disconnect between the American people and Washington politicians. Sadly, deals like this have become commonplace in Washington. We have leadership failure at the presidential level and a political establishment that negotiates flawed deals behind closed doors and basically says, “Take it or leave it.” In my nearly five years in the U.S. Senate, Congress has rubberstamped multiple debt-limit increases and short-term budgets without any reforms to stop this reckless behavior.

We have leadership failure at the presidential level and a political establishment that negotiates flawed deals behind closed doors.

There will be even tougher decisions to make in the coming years on our nation’s debt, retirement programs, tax code, regulatory environment, anti-poverty programs, health care, education, and national security. It is not too late to boldly reverse the course our country is on and achieve reforms that restore economic opportunity and bring the American Dream within reach for more people than ever before.

We can restore the American people’s confidence in their leaders through a more transparent process that opens the backroom doors and includes American families in the discussion and debate — and levels with them about the seriousness about our mounting problems. But we need more leaders in Washington — at all levels, but especially the White House — who recognize the gravity of the situation and are ready to do something about it.

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