Many of us are familiar with managing a budget, for our families or for ourselves. We track our spending and expenses, staying within our means when possible, and keeping a line of credit to help us manage unexpected costs. We set aside money to save for our children's college education, we buy a car with manageable payments that we can make and we don't commit to buying things we know we can't afford. When we find ourselves spending outside of our means, we don't assume our employer will raise our salaries; instead, we stop our spending.
As a father, I'm concerned about my children's debt and the debt that will be passed on to my future grandchildren, and as your Congressman, I am concerned for the debt that all American children will inherit. From 2009 to 2012, our spending exceeded our income by over a trillion dollars each year and every day our debt grows as a share of our economy. Soon our national debt will reach $17 trillion and we will hit the legal limit of how much debt the federal government can issue. This is commonly called the "debt ceiling."
Here's a breakdown of the fiscal state of our country based on estimates for 2013:
U.S. tax revenue: $2,813,000,000,000
Federal budget: $3,455,000,000,000
New debt: $642,000,000,000
Total national debt: $16,963,000,000,000
Recent budget cuts: $38,500,000,000
Take a few zeros off of the end of those numbers and think in terms of your household's budget:
Family income: $28,130.00
Money spent: $34,550.00
New credit card debt: $6,420.00
Total credit card debt: $169,630.00
Recent cuts to spending: $38.50
Does this spending scenario seem sustainable to you?
In 2006, then Senator Obama voted against raising our debt ceiling. In 2008, then presidential candidate Barack Obama criticized President Bush for asking Congress to raise the debt ceiling after adding $4 trillion to the national debt, saying it was "unpatriotic" to saddle future generations with such debt. His full quote: "The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents - #43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back -- $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That's irresponsible. It's unpatriotic."
The debt limit at that time was $9 trillion. Today each American's share of our national debt is over $52,000. That includes our children and our grandchildren. I agree with President Obama - that's unpatriotic no matter which party holds the presidency.
I was elected to be a steward of your futures, and that means stopping our runaway spending. None of us would manage our families' budgets the way the federal government has been managing its own, and with good reason. The House has passed a budget each year that cuts government spending to protect taxpayers while prioritizing the essential government programs that benefit each of us. The Senate, however, failed to pass a budget for the last four years. Instead, we've been left trying to design stopgap solutions that represent a patchwork of last-minute fixes where a well-designed budget plan should be. On Wednesday, the Senate sent the House yet another stopgap solution: a proposal with no guarantee that any of our spending patterns will be changed.
Over the last several years we have repeatedly found ourselves in fiscal crises. We had an opportunity to insist on real restraint in our spending and on a true change in our unsustainable direction. A default on our commitments is certainly damaging to our financial markets, but if we can't make lasting changes to our spending trajectory, we'll be stuck in this same pattern, harming our economic sustainability for future generations.
I welcome your feedback on this important issue. Please contact me to share your thoughts at Denham.house.gov or 209-579-5458.