Washington politicians do not live by the same rules that virtually all families and small businesses play by. It is your responsibility to balance your budget, spend no more than what’s in your bank account, and have a plan to manage common expenses like student, home and car loans.
But in Washington, money is routinely borrowed from Peter to pay Paul. Or in America’s case, money is borrowed from China and others to pay for more government than we could ever afford. As a result, politicians have dug us in to a hole of $15 trillion in debt, with no end in sight. Now, more than ever, we need a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In Florida’s state government, we worked under a balanced budget amendment. And every year, we worked tirelessly, had contentious debates and made very tough choices to pass a balanced budget year after year. That responsibility and accountability is not unique to Florida, as practically every other state also works under a balanced budget amendment. We need to bring this same kind of fiscal restraint to Washington. And unless we enshrine strong balanced budget principles in our Constitution, Washington politicians will never stop. That’s why it’s critically important that the Senate approve a strong balanced budget amendment this week.
The national debt is now over $15 trillion. When I was sworn into office about a year ago, the debt was just over $14 trillion. That means that, in just one year, Congress has allowed our debt to increase by more than $1 trillion. Virtually nothing could stop it from happening, despite the fact that 2011 has given us a startling glimpse into our future as European nations face their day of reckoning for decades of reckless spending.
This year’s debt ceiling debate gave us an opportunity to get serious about controlling our debt and reform the way Washington spends money. But not enough people have been willing to come to grips with the reality that decades of reckless spending, by both parties, are leading us to a diminished future.