Our nation is in a budgetary crisis. Last year, the federal government borrowed about 40 percent of all the money it spent. And today, our national debt stands at more than $16 trillion, with more than $5 trillion added in the past four years.
As a CPA and fiscal conservative, I am committed to working with my colleagues to cut spending and put our fiscal house in order. Congress does not have a blank check; it is vitally important that we balance the federal budget.
That is why I am a strong proponent of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. While these amendments come in many forms, they all demand that expenditures must match revenues, unless a supermajority of both the House and the Senate vote to approve deficit spending. A balanced budget amendment is the only way to guarantee that Washington will live within its means. I have sponsored two balanced budget amendments in the 113th Congress, H. J. Res. 1 and H. J. Res. 2.
While a balanced budget amendment is important, there no reason we cannot put our books in order now. The House of Representatives has passed a budget this year that would balance in 10 years, finally halting the runaway growth in our federal debt. Doing so will require difficult choices, and many of the services and benefits that we have come to rely on from the federal government will have to be reexamined and curtailed. Even in Texas, where we pride ourselves on our self sufficiency, we will have to adjust our expectations of the federal government. But these cuts are necessary to ensure that we do not leave our children with a nation that is worse off than the one we inherited from our parents.
To reach to a balanced budget, we must address the unsustainable futures of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. During the next 30 years, these three programs will gradually consume every tax dollar raised, leaving no money for other federal priorities. While I do not support reducing benefits for current beneficiaries, renegotiating these programs is essential to the next generation of seniors and the poor. My colleagues and I have proposed plans for substantial changes to these programs that will finally make them solvent and ensure that our most vulnerable will never be abandoned in their time of greatest need.
Putting our nation back on sound fiscal footing means addressing our annual deficit and the unsustainable growth of our entitlement programs. It also means growing the economy by reducing regulatory burdens and reforming our tax code.
The U. S. tax code is one of the most complicated revenue raising schemes ever devised. We must pass fundamental, comprehensive tax reform to sweep away this mess. While I am partial to the fair tax, I support reform efforts that will reduce tax rates and expand the tax base. By making pro-growth changes to the tax code, we can grow our economy, put more Americans to work, reduce unemployment and other safety net expenditures, and bring in the revenue we need to fund our government in the least distortive way possible.
Taxpayer dollars should be spent wisely, and it is the responsibility of Congress to revaluate the spending process. When I first came to Congress, I reasonably believed that if the House voted to cut spending in an appropriations bill, the savings would go towards reducing the deficit. However, this was not the case; that spending remained to be reallocated by the Appropriations Committee. I fought to close this loophole with an amendment I introduced to change House rules and ensure that money cut on the House floor from an annual appropriations bill be put toward reducing the national deficit or adding to the surplus. When Republicans regained the majority in 2010, my amendment was included in the House rules, and to date members of Congress have offered hundreds of amendments to cut spending from appropriations bills using my amendment.
Reducing our debts and deficits is the single greatest challenge facing our nation. How we respond will shape our children’s futures and test the limits of how well a people can govern themselves.