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Balance the Budget Before We Drown in Debt

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Record annual budget deficits and the mounting national debt – now in excess of $13.8 Trillion - are bankrupting our nation both fiscally and morally. But the resulting dangers from our political leaders' reckless and irresponsible spending now threaten America’s very own security.

As Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen recently noted, “The national debt is the single biggest threat to national security.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton similarly acknowledged that our debt "undermines our capacity to act in our own interest" and "constrain[s] us where constraint may be undesirable."

As our federal government continues to spend money it does not have, financed through foreign borrowing from countries sometimes hostile to our own values and interests, we risk jeopardizing our very own sovereignty as a result of a decreased ability to act on the world stage where needed and appropriate.

From the Tea Party activists to the top U.S. military brass, common sense dictates that the Federal books must be balanced to avoid economic calamity and prevent a weakened standing in the world. Furthermore, there is a growing recognition that this is no longer just a danger for our kids and grandkids to inherit decades from now, but rather it is a clear and present danger.

Americans - of all ages and political stripes - are looking for real leadership from our elected officials in Washington to address the growing threats from our fiscal mess. After all, the future of the country is at stake.

But can we afford to leave our fate - and that of future generations - to the same insiders from Washington to do anything responsible before it is too late?

The only way those in Washington are going to act in the long-term best interests of the country over their own short term interests is if they’re required to do so.

Now is the time to capitalize and build on the current grassroots army of voters throughout the nation and demand that Congress pass a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) to the United States Constitution and ensure that our elected representatives in state legislatures vote for ratification.

To achieve the goals of this critical effort, a national citizen action group - PassTheBBA.com - is being formed to hold our elected leaders in Washington and state capitals across the country accountable for the passage and ratification of a Balanced Budget Amendment.

As the former Majority Leader of the Florida House of Representatives, I have experienced first hand how a constitutional requirement to balance the budget makes a difference. The past few budget cycles in Tallahassee have been brutal, but the mandate forced us to make tough decisions and more importantly the system worked.

In Florida, as in most other states, passing the buck on balancing the budget is not an option. Watching every taxpayer buck becomes the only option. Passing the BBA will do the same for Washington.

And because 38 states must ratify an Amendment to the Constitution, what happens in our state legislatures will ultimately determine whether the BBA becomes a reality. Therefore, in addition to Congressional action, we must also advance three specific state level actions across the country.

First, we need to demonstrate real voter support for the BBA. This past year in Florida, I co-sponsored the bill to put a BBA referendum question on our statewide ballot. In November, Floridians overwhelmingly approved the measure with 72% of the vote, winning in every county. PassTheBBA.com will be working with state legislators to place similar measures on their state’s 2012 ballots.

Second, PassTheBBA.com will work with state legislators throughout the country to pass official resolutions supporting the BBA and calling on their state’s Congressional delegation to take action. This effort will also reveal which state legislators are prepared to vote in favor of ratifying the BBA and send the message to Congress that if passed, the state legislature has the votes to approve the BBA.

Third, we need to employ all available methods to build an army of thousands of activists in every Congressional district to support PassTheBBA.com’s initiatives. By holding every member of Congress and every State Legislator accountable to support this critical measure, voters will know if their elected officials are prepared to be on the right side of history.

If you saw a loved-one drowning, wouldn’t you act to save them?

Well, America is drowning in debt. The passage and ratification of the BBA is the bold action needed to save us all.

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