Weekly Columns

Looming Deadline for Fiscal Foundation

Senator John Boozman's Column for the Week of July 25, 2011

Jul 25 2011

The first step to fiscal responsibility begins with a budget. This year alone, the federal government will spend $3.7 trillion while only collecting $2.2 trillion. Our country can’t continue to spend more money than it has.

The spend, borrow and tax policies pursued by President Obama have been a failure and have forced us into soaring budget deficits and are putting us in a dangerous financial position. Moody’s Investors Service, a global credit rating powerhouse, recently announced it’s considering downgrading our top notch credit rating. Should this happen, it would cause havoc in the global financial markets, increase borrowing costs for our government and businesses, and most certainly push our economic recovery back.

We’ve seen what a poor fiscal policy has done to nations around the globe.  Greece, Portugal and Ireland are perfect examples of the catastrophic effects that years of deficit spending have on a country’s economic well-being and sovereignty.  The time is now to stop our spending spree and bring our country back to economic solvency.

You’ve no doubt seen and read news stories about the negotiations taking place in Washington about how to put our county on the road to sound fiscal management. We’re faced with rising deficits, an increasing debt and an escalating spending problem that needs to be addressed all the while President Obama is asking Congress to raise the debt ceiling in order to fulfill our nation’s financial obligations.

With the looming August 2nd deadline given by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to reach an agreement on the debt ceiling and lay a sound fiscal foundation, the Senate will be in session seven days a week. We need to do what’s right and I am hopeful we can find a solution that focuses on cutting spending and maintaining our financial commitments.

I believe we need to make significant spending cuts and put a mechanism in place that forces the federal government to spend within its means. In Arkansas, that mechanism is a balanced budget amendment. I am a cosponsor of a balanced budget amendment. This lets the people decide if this is the best approach to reining in our spending.

If the White House-engineered agreement for raising the debt ceiling does not include significant cuts and a spending cap mechanism, like a balanced budget amendment, to prevent us from being in this situation in the future, then the plan will not get my vote.  Anything short of that is irresponsible.

Time and time again Congress is forced to meet a deadline and we see the results at the eleventh hour. This is unacceptable. That is why I signed onto legislation that requires any deal on the debt ceiling to be published online seven days before any vote could be taken.  This is commonsense legislation that provides time for Members of Congress and the American people to review the legislation.

There is too much at stake not to do what is necessary to put us on the road to sound fiscal management. We are the greatest, freest nation the world has ever known and I am confident we will rise to the occasion and make the right decisions that will continue to make us a tremendous magnet for investment. This will not happen overnight but we can work towards a long-term solution that will solve our fiscal challenges.