Weekly Columns

We all know that our fiscal house isn’t in order right now. The national debt stands at $28 trillion dollars, the projected budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2021 is nearly $3 trillion and President Joe Biden is aiming to approve more than $5 trillion in spending just this year.

Not long ago, Americans viewed significantly smaller federal budgets as bloated and in need of scaling back. Now, we’re dealing with multi-trillion-dollar proposals that we aren’t committed to paying for. As the federal government’s spending has continued to climb over the last two decades, this year we’re pushing the limits of what we thought was even possible.

It may seem like we’re dealing with Monopoly money, but unlike in the popular board game there are real-world consequences ahead if we continue down this path.

Since January, Congress and the Biden administration have pursued outrageous spending policies that would have been unfathomable just a few years ago. It started with the so-called “COVID-19 relief” legislation that passed in March and came in just under $2 trillion.

Now, in pursuit of a bipartisan infrastructure measure, legislation that would add at least a quarter-trillion dollars to the projected deficits over the next ten years is advancing in Congress. I have long supported responsible infrastructure investment, but I couldn’t support this bill because it increases deficit spending with too little to offer in return, including outsized focuses on public transportation and green alternatives rather than traditional needs like modernizing and upgrading roads, bridges, railroads, airports and even water systems and rural broadband. 

I’m disappointed we couldn’t reach a fiscally responsible solution, but instead are choosing to increase the burden on future generations of Americans to pay for more current spending. And worse, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tied this bill to a $4.2 trillion spending spree of liberal wish list items.

That agenda of radical left-wing priorities is also on the move in Congress. The framework passed the Senate on a party-line vote and should concern anyone wary of bigger government and more debt.

It also emphasizes the risks of continued inflation. Since last July, prices have risen 5.4 percent. It’s becoming more expensive to fill up our gas tanks, buy food at the grocery store or in restaurants, and even purchase other consumer goods like appliances and automobiles. That hurts all of us to some extent, but none more so than individuals and families already struggling to make ends meet.

Many Americans had been seeing their wages rise in recent years, but now those gains have been wiped out as a result of higher costs.

These challenges will only grow if the federal government continues to spend at the astounding levels the White House is pushing. One area where the rubber will truly meet the road is the cap on our country’s borrowing limit.

I recently joined most of my Republican colleagues in the Senate to tell the American people that we believe Democrats should take ownership of their out-of-control spending. As such, we won’t be voting to increase the debt ceiling. The massive, reckless tax-and-spend agenda they are working to rapidly enact is not paid for, so the Biden administration and Congressional Democrats owe the American people an explanation for why we must borrow even more money to afford it. 

For my part, I will continue to advocate for responsible and sound fiscal policies. That’s what we do in Arkansas and around our kitchen tables. It is also what should be done in Washington.