Every South Dakota family must live within a budget, and I continue to believe the federal government should do the same. For too long, responsible budgeting has not been practiced in Washington, but in the 114th Congress, the Republican majority made passing a balanced budget a priority—and succeeded. We passed the first joint balanced budget in 14 years.
Unfortunately, there is more work to do. While progress has been made to contain the growth of discretionary spending, both long and short-term projections underscore the need for us to address the true driver of our debts and deficits, mandatory programs. Spending on mandatory programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, and programs created by the Affordable Care Act are not funded by annual appropriations and continue to grow. Responsible reforms to these programs are necessary to ensure benefits for current beneficiaries remain unchanged, while also ensuring that benefits are also available for our children and grandchildren.
Ultimately, countless reports show that our country is on an unsustainable fiscal path. While some have celebrated the reduction of deficits from trillion dollar levels to billion dollar levels in recent years, that is something that could only be considered an achievement in Washington, D.C., and ignores the long-term budget outlook.
Our tax dollars should be spent wisely on matters that are important to South Dakota and reflect our values. As we continue our work in this Congress, I stand ready to work across the aisle to continue to make the tough decisions necessary to reduce spending, enact meaningful reforms to strengthen existing programs, and ultimately put our fiscal house back in order.
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