Fourteen years ago, I was a freshman member of the U.S. House of Representatives when my Republican colleagues on the other side of the Capitol fell just one vote shy of passing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. This was a disappointing moment for Congress and a missed opportunity for our country’s fiscal health.
Our national debt has gone from $5 trillion in 1997 to over $15 trillion today and I cannot help but think that our country would be in a much better fiscal place now had the U.S. Senate passed this common sense requirement.
Just this past week, the Senate had another chance to pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. This serious, straightforward amendment, of which I was an original cosponsor, would have required the president to submit a balanced budget to Congress prior to each Fiscal Year that limits federal spending to 18 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. The amendment would have required Congress to approve budget, spending, and revenue bills that meet these requirements as well. As a means to prevent the government from simply increasing taxes on our nation’s families and job creators in order to pay for its debt and unsustainable entitlement programs, the amendment would have required any tax increase receive a two-thirds majority in both chambers for passage.
Unfortunately, this common sense, desperately-needed amendment again failed to receive the necessary two-thirds majority and ultimately died along party lines with the majority of Senate Democrats voting against the bill.
America is in the midst of a fiscal crisis that is growing each and every day. Since President Obama took office, America’s national debt has increased by over 40 percent and each and every person in our country now owes over $48,000 in debt and every American family now owes well over $125,000 in debt.
The time for a balanced budget amendment is long-overdue and represents the only way to get our country back on a path to fiscal sanity. I will continue to aggressively push for a balanced budget amendment as we work to ensure that our nation does not follow the path of Greece, Spain, and other European counties that are faced with significant debt loads and government obligations. Our children and grandchildren deserve better than trillions of dollars of debt from previous generations.