Getting Our Fiscal House in Order

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For months now the Leadership in the Congress and the Administration have been negotiating the amount of money that the federal government is allowed to borrow.  Unfortunately, because of continued out-of-control spending, Congress was yet again asked to increase the debt ceiling – not to create new spending, but to pay for what Congress has already obligated.

While I believe the federal government must not default on its debt obligations, it is equally important for Congress to enact reforms to limit government spending and balance the budget.  To be clear, the skyrocketing national debt is only the symptom of the much larger problem of out-of-control government spending that exceeds revenues.  The independent credit rating agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s understand this and threatened to downgrade the United States’ global credit rating if reforms were not put in place to ensure that spending is controlled and the budget is stabilized.   For these reasons, I voted against a bill that would have raised the debt ceiling without also enacting these types of reforms.

Just days ago the Congress passed, with my support, and the President signed into law, bipartisan legislation which does make significant progress in addressing the underlying spending problem.  The Budget Control Act, takes a hard look at all our nation’s spending programs and immediately cuts $917 billion in federal spending in exchange for an increase in the debt ceiling of $900 billion.  In addition, a second increase in the debt ceiling will only be allowed if Congress enacts spending cuts and savings of at least the same amount as that second debt ceiling increase.  If this second process fails, the bill sets forth a formula that makes across-the-board spending reductions.

The Budget Control Act also sets up a mechanism to ensure that at least $2.1 trillion is saved over the next 10 years.  The legislation contains the kinds of spending cuts and institutional reforms we need to take.  These are the first steps toward solving our nation’s spending and debt crises, while preventing our nation from defaulting on its debt and not raising taxes.

 Finally, the Budget Control Act guarantees a vote by both the House and the Senate on a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution by the end of the year.  I have fought hard to have this balanced budget amendment provision included in this legislation.  This simple requirement that the government not spend more than it takes in is the ultimate reform and would be the most effective way to force the government to live within its means.  Once the budget is balanced it would help ensure that we would not need to raise the debt ceiling in the future.

Allowing the U.S. to default on its creditors would not only have been immoral, it also would have unleashed drastic economic consequences for the United States and its citizens.  While the Budget Control Act is not the ultimate solution to our nation’s spending-driven debt crisis, it did prevent a U.S. default on our obligations while simultaneously enacting significant levels of spending reductions and savings that will take strong steps toward getting the nation’s fiscal house in order.

– Congressman Bob Goodlatte