Senator John ThuneJust two months ago, President Obama submitted his proposed budget for the Fiscal Year 2012 to Congress. This budget included $9.5 trillion in deficit spending and would add $13 trillion to the nation's debt over the next 10 years.
Since the president submitted his massive government spending proposal, we have witnessed a sea change in the spending debate here in Washington. Listening to the American people, Congressional Republicans have successfully forced the president and the Democrat-led Senate to find nearly $40 billion in savings in the long overdue Fiscal Year 2011 appropriation bills, which could amount to an estimated $315 billion in savings over the next decade.
We have changed the conversation in Congress from how much of America's tax dollars we should spend to how much we can save.
With our nation's debt over $14 trillion, applying the brakes and turning two years of the largest deficit spending in the history of this nation since World War II into meaningful spending cuts is a great start. We cannot rest on our laurels, however, until we address not only how Congress budgets hard-earned taxpayer dollars, but also our rapidly increasing entitlement spending, one of the largest drivers of deficit spending.
While I am happy to see Congress finally taking tangible actions to curb runaway federal spending, we know that reducing our discretionary spending is only the first step toward reducing our unsustainable levels of borrowing and debt. The federal government is currently borrowing $4 billion each day, which equates to South Dakota's entire budget for a full year.
Congress has big debates ahead, including the president's request to raise the debt limit and the need to pass a budget for Fiscal Year 2012, which begins in less than six months.
These decisions will be tough and will certainly have real-world impacts, but the consequences of inaction are much more severe. As Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has repeatedly said, "The single biggest threat to our national security is our debt." By taking meaningful steps now to rein in our nation's dangerous levels of debt and deficits, we will help avert a fiscal crisis for future generations of South Dakotans.