Dr. Boozman's Check-up

Debt Ceiling Memo

Oct 14 2013

The debt ceiling is a cap set by Congress on the amount of debt the federal government can legally borrow. According to the Treasury Department, Congress is facing an October 17 deadline to raise the debt ceiling or face a default on the bills our country owes. 

Irresponsible spending hurts the future of our country. Over the past four years, the out-of-control spending has increased our deficit spending and forced us to increase the debt ceiling seven times. This means Washington has added $43,000 in debt for every American household. We need to cut spending and balance the budget so we can regain control of our finances. 

Cut Spending 

Hardworking Arkansas families are forced to spend within their means and Washington needs to do same. We need a long-term plan to put our country on the road to fiscal responsibility and that begins by reining in spending. 

61 percent of Americans believe that it’s “right to require spending cuts when the debt ceiling is raised.” 

Balance the Budget 

The government has a responsibility to pay its financial obligations, but continuing to raise the debt limit is not an approach that puts our country on the path to fiscal responsibility. We need a mechanism that prevents us from overspending and forces the government to budget within its means. The only way to get a handle on the out-of-control spending is to reform how we allocate federal dollars. That’s why I’m supportive of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.

Just think how differently our financial outlook would be had Congress passed the Balanced Budget Amendment in 1995. The House approved the amendment but it failed in the Senate by one vote. 

Washington needs to follow in the footsteps of Arkansas where state leaders are required to balance the budget. If Arkansas can do it, Washington can too. 

I am a cosponsor of S.J. Res. 6, a balanced budget resolution introduced by Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) as well as S.J. Res. 7, a balanced budget resolution introduced by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX). Both of these measures would propose a Constitutional amendment that stipulates that the United States cannot spend more than its total revenue for any given fiscal year. 

While Washington has taken steps to rein in spending we need to continue efforts. In 2011 Congress passed the Budget Control Act to simultaneously address federal spending and the debt ceiling. In an effort to cut Washington spending by a trillion dollars, President Obama proposed and agreed to across-the-board cuts known as sequestration. To avoid these automatic cuts, members of the joint deficit reduction committee, commonly referred to as the supercommittee were tasked with cutting more than $1 trillion in deficit spending. As you may remember, the committee failed to make the necessary cuts which triggered sequestration. 

We have to make difficult spending decisions. That begins with passing a budget and approving the 12 appropriations bills. Following proper procedure allows for proper oversight to help eliminate waste, fraud and abuse with taxpayer dollars. 

Learn more:

Congressional Research Service (CRS): The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases