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Reining In Out-of-Control Spending

By Sen. John Thune

May 19, 2023

Federal spending has grown increasingly out of control under the Biden administration. The federal government will spend 40 percent more this year than it did just four years ago, yet the president and Democrats continue to propose more reckless spending and balk at Republicans’ responsible attempts to rein it in. Democrats have added trillions to the debt in the last two years and fueled an inflation crisis with their overspending. And their reluctance to engage in serious negotiations to reduce excess government spending risks precipitating a debt crisis.

At $31.4 trillion, our national debt already exceeds the size of the entire U.S. economy, and it’s projected to rise to over $50 trillion in the next decade. This level of debt is not only unsustainable, it’s unacceptable. Government debt drives up interest rates, crowds out private investment, and weakens America’s economic and national security.  

Just paying the interest alone on this much debt is an increasingly serious challenge. Unless common-sense fiscal policy is prioritized, 50 cents out of every dollar the government borrows over the next decade will go toward making interest payments. In a few years, interest payments will exceed what we spend on national defense, with Medicare and Social Security not far behind.  

Making tough choices today can help ensure we avoid these dire circumstances in the future. But President Biden doesn’t seem to see it this way. He has consistently proposed budgets that call for more federal spending, which he hopes to pay for, in part, with trillions of dollars in tax hikes. But the truth is that we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Taxing the rich may be a convenient political slogan, but it will not bring in enough money to dig us out of the hole we’re in. We have to find a way to responsibly rein in federal spending.

Historically, the debt ceiling has provided an opportunity to do just this. The eight largest deficit reduction laws since 1985 have all been attached to debt limit legislation. The president’s refusal to negotiate for three months and his repeated calls for Congress to raise the debt ceiling without any meaningful spending reforms defies precedent and it indicates a lack of seriousness.

There has never been a more important time to address the problem of reckless government spending. The trajectory it’s on now is not just dangerous in the long-run, it can cause serious problems in the not-too-distant future. It’s time for the president to join Republicans in taking this problem seriously and work toward a solution that puts us on a more sustainable and responsible fiscal path.