Why it matters: While the size of the federal budget has fluctuated in recent years, the national debt has continued to climb. Washington continues to borrow and spend at an alarming rate and as a result the national debt has reached nearly $20 trillion. This is astounding and troubling. Each American’s share of the national debt now comes in at more than $60,000. Without making the tough, responsible choices that are necessary to right the ship, we are mortgaging away our children’s and grandchildren’s futures.
Where I stand: One of the main ways we can ensure that the federal government lives within its means is to pass a mechanism that requires Congress adhere to a balanced budget, like we do in Arkansas. If we can do it in Arkansas, we can do it in Washington.
Another reform that would help to put us on a path back to fiscal responsibility would be to return to regular order. Congress should pass all 12 individual spending bills each year. We have to end the crisis-style governing that occurs when we pass short-term funding resolutions. Forcing departments and agencies to operate without knowing what resources they will have at their disposal is incredibly inefficient, shortsighted and neglectful of the current concerns and needs of the American people.
Finally, we need to get serious about entitlement reform. Entitlements are the main drivers of federal spending. Programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid account for half of the federal budget. The sooner we make reforms to mandatory spending programs, the easier it will be to ensure these programs stay solvent and remain operational for the long-term.
As we discuss possible reforms to mandatory spending, we must start with the agreement that it is unfair to change the rules of the game in the fourth quarter for those who are near to or have already reached retirement age. This is such an important issue and it will take participation from the White House, Congress and every American to reach a solution that works for seniors and future generations so we can keep the promises that the federal government makes.
We owe it to the generations of Americans who’ve sacrificed in order for our country to prosper, and that means working together to solve our problems. I am committed to working with my colleagues on both the Budget and Appropriations Committees to correct the course our nation is on by reining in Washington’s reckless spending and putting our nation back on a fiscally responsible, sustainable path.