Thomas Jefferson once wrote: "To preserve [the] independence [of the people,] we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude.” At $18 trillion, the national debt is now equal to more than $56,000 for every man, woman and child in this country. This means that the amount of debt for everyone in the U.S. now exceeds the median family income. We simply cannot allow this spending spree to continue.
It is a simple concept -- you can’t spend more than you take in. Business owners, individuals and families all across this country understand this concept and live by it in their own lives. They should expect nothing less from the federal government and yet Congress continues to prove it cannot make the tough decisions on its own. We must rein in the skyrocketing deficit spending that is discouraging investment and threatening to bankrupt our nation.
Every Congress since 2007, I have introduced amendments that require Congress to balance the federal budget. In order for Congress to consistently make the tough decisions necessary for fiscal responsibility, Congress must have the external pressure of a balanced budget requirement.
This problem is not a partisan one – both parties are guilty of excessive spending and have been for decades. A handful of Members, including myself, have a long track record of opposing wasteful spending and supporting aggressive reforms aimed at reining in runaway government spending, regardless of which party has been in power. For years now, I have voted for the toughest budget alternatives offered on the House Floor. Unfortunately, none of these tough budgets have received enough votes to pass. I will continue to aggressively work to rein in government spending.
On the opening day of the 114th Congress, I once again introduced two balanced budget amendments, H.J. Res 1 and H.J. Res 2, to the Constitution as a long term solution to America's debt. Today, the national debt has soared well past a staggering $18 trillion. Our national debt has doubled since this Administration was elected to office, as the national debt was $9 trillion in 2008. This rapid increase in debt and consecutive trillion dollar plus budget deficits are clear signs that Washington has a serious spending problem. It will take real institutional reforms, such as a balanced budget amendment, to ensure that Washington’s insatiable appetite for spending is brought under control.
H.J. Res. 1 is a four-part balanced budget amendment. It contains a requirement for a balanced annual federal budget, places a spending cap on annual federal spending, imposes a three-fifths supermajority vote requirement to increase the debt limit, and a three-fifths supermajority requirement to raise taxes.
H.J. Res. 2 is identical to the balanced budget amendment considered in the House of Representatives in the 112th Congress, which received 261 bipartisan votes when it came to the House floor. This resolution requires that Congress not spend more than it receives in revenues. It also requires a true majority of each chamber to pass tax increases and a three-fifths majority to raise the debt limit. Last Congress, 142 cosponsors signed onto the resolution.
I was pleased to support House passage of H.Con.Res. 27, a concurrent resolution establishing the budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2016 on March 25, 2015 The House Budget would balance the budget in less than 10 years without raising taxes, achieve $5.5 trillion in spending reductions and calls for a fairer, simpler tax code to promote job creation and a healthy economy. In addition, the measure includes a recommendation for a Balanced Budget Amendment, (H.J.Res. 2) which I have introduced for many years while in Congress.