- - Thursday, March 28, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

$67,000.

That’s the share of the federal debt inherited by every child born today in America.

When I was born in 1967, my share of the national debt was $1,640. Back then, the national debt was $326 million. That was about 38 percent of the national economy (as measured by Gross Domestic Product).

By 2008, when Barack Obama was elected as the 44th president, the national debt had grown to $10 trillion. That was 68 percent of the national economy.

Eight years later, the national debt nearly doubled to $19.6 trillion. That was an eye popping 104 percent of the our national economy. Yes, you read that right — our debt is more than the overall economy in America.



Right now, the U.S. debt has grown to more than $22 trillion. That’s up to 106 percent of the nation’s economy.

The national debt is six and half times larger than federal revenues at $3.3 trillion. That would be like living off of $33,000 a year while having credit card debt of $220,000.

Look at it another way: College students, graduates and parents are rightly concerned about student loan debt. Our family knows this well as our sons Matt and Alex both graduated from college during the past few years. But the average amount owed for student loans is still less than half of what the share of the federal debt is for every child born today in America. All of this overwhelmingly points to the need for a balanced budget amendment.

We cannot expect Washington to fix this problem. Over the past 50 years, there have been several attempts by Congress — the Budget Control Act of 1974, Gramm-Rudman, Sequestration; to name a few — but they each failed because the members of one Congress ultimately cannot bind the members of a future Congress. And despite numerous attempts, Congress has failed to pass a balanced budget amendment proposal for ratification by the states.

If trends continue, the national debt will rise to $30 trillion within the next six years. The interest paid on that debt will represent 25 percent of the national economy. We cannot survive as a nation under those circumstances.

It will have a devastating impact on the economy. And it will challenge budget priorities like Social Security and our military. It is why there is a wide and growing coalition advocating for a balanced budget amendment.

What we are asking for is not unreasonable. People balance their budgets every day in their own homes. Small business owners and employers have to do it all of the time. And most states already have a similar requirement for their own budgets. It is time for the federal government to do the same.

This is why I have joined with the team at the Center for State-led Debt Solutions to pass a balanced budget amendment. Specifically, I am proud to serve as the honorary national chair of this campaign.

As defined in our Founding document, an amendment to the U.S. Constitution shall be proposed by a two thirds vote in the Congress or by two thirds of the states calling for a convention to propose an amendment. Three-fourths of the states must ratify the proposed amendment for it to become a part of the Constitution.

So far, 28 states have passed resolutions calling for a balanced budget amendment. That means that six more states are needed to pass resolutions to call for a convention under Article V that can propose the amendment. Alternatively, getting more states to approve the call for a balanced budget amendment might actually get the Congress to act (as was the case with the 17th Amendment).

Many of the opponents of a balanced budget amendment are those who feed off of the uncontrolled spending in Washington, D.C. If we really want to drain the swamp, we need to take power away from those who would spend us into oblivion.

Other opponents raise concerns about convening a convention. I would encourage anyone with that concern to take another look at Article V. The language of the U.S. Constitution is clear that a convention has the same limited power as the Congress — either method can be used to propose an amendment but approval still requires ratification from three fourth of the states.

Ratification is the safeguard envisioned by our Founders to protect us from a runaway convention. Today, it will take the support of 38 states to ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In the end, requiring a balanced budget is not a Republican or a Democratic idea. It is an American idea. Uncontrolled debt is like a virus eating up more and more of our budget. Our nation cannot survive with the rate of deficit spending. Now is the time for leaders to step forward and fix this problem — while we still can — because our kids and their kids are counting on us.

Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him @ScottWalker.

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