When we’re constantly bombarded by headlines about major, worldwide national security threats — such as those posed by ISIS or a nuclear North Korea — it can be easy to overlook other, far-less-obvious threats we face on a daily basis on our own soil.
What we’re talking about here isn’t going to appear at the top of people’s news feeds — it’s a danger that’s crept up over time, quietly threatening us more each day: Our $21 trillion national debt.
Fueled by Washington’s inability or indisposition to be fiscally responsible, our debt has mounted to dangerous levels, not because of a lack of tax revenue, but a lack of political willpower to contain the rapid growth of government.
We hope the 115th Congress will be remembered for the promises that were finally kept for the hard-working families of our nation. Promises to make it easier to start and grow small business. Promises to slash crippling taxes that discourage development and expansion. And promises to roll back burdensome and ineffective regulations that keep people in Texas, North Carolina, and across the country from prospering.
Another promise we can and should deliver on is to restrain Washington’s spending and the threat it poses to our progress and the core principle of the American Dream that every generation can be better and more successful than the last.
It’s time to live within our means as a government — just like the families and individuals we were sent here to represent. As a collective goal for this legislative year, we want to ensure that an effective and enforceable Balanced Budget Amendment passes the House of Representatives.
It’s been nearly two decades since the federal government operated under a balanced budget — despite massive growth in federal revenues over this same time span. That means every year, we rob our children and grandchildren of opportunity to selfishly avoid making the tough decisions now. That practice must come to an end.
Last year, despite bringing in $3.5 trillion in federal revenue from taxpayers — a 75 percent increase since the last time the federal government had a balanced budget — Washington still managed to outspend revenues by an ominous $666 billion.
Some in Washington propose taxing American families more of their hard-earned income to foot the bill, but we’ve all seen the devastating impact that approach had on our languid, lethargic economy under President Obama and Nancy Pelosi’s government-knows-best mentality.
The recently signed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and the immediate dividends it’s shown for growth and job creation prove that less government, not more intrusion, is the right solution for revitalizing our economy. The best way to get our debt in check is to control spending. That’s why last year we helped craft and support a budget that included more than 250 spending reforms, putting us on the road to financial balance.
A Balanced Budget Amendment is not revolutionary, and it shouldn’t be hard. It’s consistent with the same real-world constraints felt by American families and most state governments. Support for this measure of restraint has been consistent for more than four decades with three-quarters of Americans in favor, including a majority from both parties.
Spending within one’s means is never easy — and our out-of-control national debt is proof that it’s much easier to squander money that isn’t your own. It’s time to put an end to Washington’s flagrant abuse of Americans’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars once and for all.
If lawmakers refuse to make the tough decisions required to restore fiscal sanity, then they should be the ones paying the price. Just like families and individuals bear the burden if they fail to balance their own checkbooks.
We cannot allow our debt to become a source of subjugation for our free people. By operating under a balanced budget, we’ll ensure that Washington is working for the American people — not their own reelections or political ease. After all, that’s what we were sent to Congress to do. Let’s continue delivering on our promises and show that our unified Republican government can lead with principle and purpose.
• John Ratcliffe is a Republican U.S. representative from Texas. Mark Walker, a Republican U.S. representative from North Carolina, is chairman of the Republican Study Committee.