Weekly Columns

Debt is Holding Back Economic Growth

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Washington, January 18, 2012 | comments

The national debt continues to rise to ever more dangerous levels and has now reached over $15 trillion – officially surpassing the size of our economy at 100 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).   The unsustainable amount of government debt is so high that it is straining economic growth.  We must get serious about enacting spending cuts that put us on a sustainable fiscal path.

Instead of reining in spending, the president has asked Congress to raise the debt ceiling again. That is why this week the House of Representatives will vote on a resolution to disapprove of the Obama administration’s request for an increase in the nation’s debt ceiling – another “sign of leadership failure,” in the president’s own words. This vote is in response to the administration’s reckless spending binge that has driven America’s economy down a disastrous fiscal path and hurt job creation at a critical time for middle-class families and small businesses.

Under President Obama’s watch, the government has accumulated the three largest annual budget deficits in our nation’s history.  Over $4.6 trillion has been added to the national debt since Obama took office, which is the most rapid increase of any president.  Additionally, there was a 25 percent increase in non-discretionary spending by the president when Democrats controlled both the House and Senate.  According to the U.S. Census, every American’s share of the national debt stands at $48,699.

Economists continue to warn that our nation’s economic growth is constrained.  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Douglas Elmendorf has said that the growing debt puts us at risk for a “sudden fiscal crisis.”  CNBC’s John Carney recently chimed in about the deficit officially surpassing 100 percent of GDP saying that it “has serious implications for economic theory.” He goes on to say that “public-sector debt in the U.S. grew from 58 percent of GDP in 2000 to 97 percent in 2010. That almost certainly puts us beyond the threshold where our debt is restraining economic growth.”

With the upcoming budget that is due on February 6, the president has another opportunity to offer a serious, credible plan that lays out how we are going to get this country’s fiscal house in order.  Congress, along with the president, needs to come to an agreement that leads to stabilization and declines the ratios of federal government debt to GDP and debt to revenue.

I came to Congress to get our nation back on track and that includes making the tough decisions that will put us on a path to prosperity.  We must end our annual budget deficits and lower the debt if we want to see sustainable economic growth.  Even the president admits that if we fail to do this, it could lead to a double dip recession.  Now is the time to enact spending cuts because our national security is at risk if we do not lower the deficit.

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