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COLUMN: Drawing a Line on Runaway Deficit

February 15, 2016
Weekly Column and Op-Ed

Last week, the Administration released the final budget under this President – a record-breaking $4.1 trillion budget for FY 2017.

The proposed lame duck budget would add nearly $2.6 trillion to our national debt over the next five years. It would increase taxes by $3.4 trillion and includes a $10.25 per-barrel oil tax. Such a tax would be passed down to consumers in the form of higher prices at the pump, averaging 24 cents per gallon, as well as increasing the price of transportation for other products.

The Administration’s budget is full of nonstarters, such as an increase in funding for the Internal Revenue Service by 4.7 percent, giving the agency, which improperly targeted conservative groups, another $1 billion.

This proposed budget never, ever balances. In fact, this Administration has never submitted a budget to the Congress that would balance. When the President came to office in 2009, the debt stood at $10.6 trillion. The national debt has nearly doubled in seven years, recently reaching $19 trillion.

Our nation’s debt is like a high-speed train. Soon, it may be too late to slow that train down.

I support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution as one step in the right direction toward fiscal sanity. Last week, I also supported passage of the Debt Management and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which would require the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury to appear before Congress and submit a report on the general status of the nation’s debt and solutions to control the national debt in advance of any request to raise the debt ceiling.

I was pleased that the House also passed an amendment I introduced with my colleagues, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH), and Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), to require every presidential administration— Republican or Democrat—to explain whether the President recommends that Congress adopt a balanced budget amendment before requesting an increase in the nation’s debt ceiling.

My amendment would draw a line in the sand: It would very simply require the President to tell the American people, when he or she asks for a debt ceiling increase, whether or not they support a balanced budget amendment.

It is that simple. My amendment is about transparency, and being open with the American people where one stands on this very critical issue. The American people have the right to know whether this or any future Administration is serious about reining in the national debt.

The time is quickly coming when our nation will have to make the decision whether we will act to restore the fiscal health of our nation to a state of stability and prosperity for future generations, And when that day comes, the American people deserve to know who is standing where.