CNBC: The first step to fix the US debt crisis
Imagine if you received a credit-card bill, through your own irresponsible spending habits, for over $1 million. Well that is exactly what's happening due to our current fiscal crisis in America. Through a lack of discipline and mismanagement, the federal government is essentially handing every household a million-dollar bill.
What would be the best way to escape this self-inflicted situation? The answer does not involve a quick fix; it must be a long-term solution. The first step requires a change in Washington's behavior, which is a big deal given that these problematic spending patterns date back several decades.
Over the past 100 years, Americans have seen the impact of political super majorities that produced the New Deal, the Great Society, and Obamacare and Dodd-Frank. In many ways, these progressive spending plans have failed the very people they claim to champion – working women and men of America – and together, they come at a massive expense to taxpayers and still continue to add to the nation's debt crisis.
There are no innocent parties in Washington, however, when it comes to America's current fiscal catastrophe. Overspending and mismanagement by both political parties has led to $18 trillion in federal debt today with over $100 trillion of future unfunded liabilities coming at the nation like a freight train.
Currently, U.S. interest rates are at historical lows. If interest rates were to only rise to their 30-year average of 5.5 percent, the federal government would have to pay nearly $1 trillion each year in interest alone. That's about twice what the U.S. spends on our military. The numbers simply don't add up and it's time to start thinking differently about how the U.S. funds the federal government.
Congress has been in gridlock on this issue for years. One side argues for tax increases, the other side wants spending cuts. Growing the free enterprise system has gone by the wayside, while growing the size of the federal government has become the new normal.
According to the CBO, one percentage point of additional growth in the economy sustained over the next decade would generate over $300 billion additional federal revenue over 10 years. But that's not nearly enough. The Federal Reserve has pumped nearly $4 trillion into the economy and yet it still isn't growing as fast a sit should be because of the country's uncompetitive tax system and the explosion of burdensome regulations sucking the very life out of the U.S. economy.
The U.S. must focus on developing a long-range plan to pay down this outrageous debt, which would include both discretionary spending cuts and growing the economy. Even that won't be enough since the U.S. is already well past the fail-safe point. Congress must also make responsible changes in mandatory spending related to saving Social Security and Medicare.
Some progress has been made in changing Washington's irresponsible spending habits. Earlier this year, Congress passed a budget that reduces federal spending by $7 trillion over the next 10 years. But much more is needed.
From a business perspective, the U.S. needs to stop looking at Washington's income statement, as it only provides a snapshot of the situation, and look at the entire balance sheet. By doing so, the country will see a much more complete picture of what can be done to solve this debt crisis now and in the future.
Going forward, we must cut wasteful spending by eliminating redundant government agencies and duplicative programs. We should return to the regular appropriations process and allow Congress to debate any new spending requests that differ from the approved budget.
We need to revitalize the economy by lowering the corporate tax rate and eliminating the taxation of repatriated earnings. These measures would create a level playing field and provide certainty for our business community that is currently reluctant to invest. Additionally, we need to unlock our full energy potential and responsibly tap into every natural resource at our disposal.
Americans know you cannot pay off a large amount of debt in the blink of an eye; you have to pay it down overtime like a mortgage or credit card bill. Similarly, tackling our national debt won't happen overnight. It should be our top priority every single day, not just for the next few weeks or coming months before the next looming deadline of Washington's own making.
This is Congress' make or break moment and the American people expect results. In fact, they are demanding it.
United States Senator David Perdue is the junior senator from Georgia and serves on the Senate Budget, Foreign Relations, Agriculture, and Judiciary Committees. Previously, Senator Perdue was the CEO of Reebok athletic brand and Dollar General stores. Senator Perdue is currently the only Fortune 500 CEO serving in the United States Senate and is committed to using his business experience to grow the economy and tackle our national debt crisis.
By: Senator David Perdue
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