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Congressman Adrian Smith

Representing the 3rd District of Nebraska

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Budget Crisis

July 26, 2019
Column

We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Last year, federal revenue was at a near record high, yet our debt continued to increase. Despite attempts to restore fiscal order, this trend has been ongoing for years.

In 2011, Congress and President Obama brokered a bipartisan compromise to stop the bleeding. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) cut spending, capped future spending, and included no tax increases. While this bill was not perfect, it showed bipartisan resolve to address our spending crisis.

After the BCA was enacted, Congress had a chance to get serious about debt reduction. The intent of placing these budget caps was to require spending reforms in order to raise the debt ceiling.

However, Congress repeatedly gone back on this agreement. The debt ceiling has been repeatedly raised and the budget caps lifted again and again, allowing debt to climb to its current level of $22 trillion. I voted for the BCA, and have not supported a budget which raises these caps without full spending offsets or serious reforms.

This budget agreement raises budget caps by $321 billion and suspends the debt ceiling until July 2021. Non-defense spending will increase 4.5 percent from last year. To counter the increase of spending, there are $77 billion in spending offsets. Obviously, these numbers do not add up. Furthermore, this budget does nothing to prevent the need to lift budget caps and raise the debt ceiling again. Without serious reforms, we will continue to find ourselves in this situation.

We cannot spend our way out of this problem. The more we spend, the deeper we get ourselves into debt. The debt will have long lasting effects, and the consequences of our fiscal irresponsibility falls on our children and grandchildren. It is our responsibility to stop this trend before it becomes their problem. These stakes are why we must tackle these issues today.

I cannot support giving Washington a blank check, and have consistently voted against doing so. I am also a cosponsor of the Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment. While amending the Constitution should be a last resort, it is clear we need stronger rules in place to stop our spending problem.

The $22 trillion of debt was not caused by a single budget, nor will a single budget fix it. Both parties are responsible for this crisis. Fixing it will require cutting spending, growing the economy, and doing so consistently – our future depends on it.

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