John Thune

The spirit of American Exceptionalism that our country’s founding fathers embraced was built on the fundamental pillars of political liberty, economic freedom and moral responsibility. Today, I am concerned that one of those pillars is at risk: our economic freedom.

America’s national debt is increasing with every passing day. In the 232 years of American history until 2008, through 43 American presidents, our country accumulated $6.3 trillion in publicly held debt. Under the Obama administration, that number is projected to double in five years and triple in 10 years.

To break these numbers down to a more personal level, for every child in America under 18 when President Obama took office, their share of that debt was $84,000. Now it is $119,000 per child. By the end of 2016, it would be $196,000.

We are witnessing a massive increase in the amount of borrowing, the amount of spending, the amount of debt and the growth of government in Washington, D.C. We need to start tackling this debt, and we need to start doing it now.

Toward that goal, I have introduced a three-part plan—the Deficit Reduction and Budget Reform Act—that addresses what I think are the biggest contributing factors to this broken system.

First and foremost, we must take control of the government’s runaway spending. The single most important thing Congress can do this year is to clearly state to the American people that our problem is not that taxes are too low, it is that our spending is too high. The only way to fix that problem is to cut spending.

My bill would impose a 10-year spending freeze that would cap the federal government’s non-national security discretionary spending at the level it was at in fiscal year 2008 adjusted for inflation. Since 2008, that spending has increased by 21 percent. All of this comes at a time when inflation in the overall economy has only grown at about 3.5 percent. Such a discretionary spending freeze would save about $450 billion. And we put some teeth in that by requiring a two-thirds supermajority of the Congress to waive that freeze.

Additionally, we would reclaim any stimulus money that has not been used or obligated. Those, too, are dollars that ought to be put toward paying down the federal debt.

Second, because spending restraint will not last long without some real reform of our broken and dysfunctional budget process, my plan includes several steps to change the way Washington spends money.

One such change includes making the budget a binding joint resolution of the Congress that the president would sign into law. A binding joint resolution would give the budget the force of law, which it currently lacks.

John Thune

John Thune is a United States Senator from South Dakota.