Another Perspective

What’s Another $2.4 Trillion?

Our national debt currently hovers at $14,352,045,270,245.76.

By 6.22.11

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Our national debt currently hovers at $14,352,045,270,245.76. 

Yet instead of working to decrease this exorbitant sum, many of my congressional colleagues are suggesting we raise our debt limit, inevitably encouraging the accumulation of more debt and borrowing that money on the backs of our children and grandchildren. Clearly, our government's approach to spending is completely out of control, and as citizens it is our responsibility to hold it accountable. The government does not need more money -- in fact, we need to give it less, and ensure that the borrowing does not continue. 

In a recent letter to Congress, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner made bold statements and declared that our country would see "catastrophic economic consequences that would last for decades" if we did not vote to raise the debt ceiling. This behavior is unacceptable; if we continuously raise the debt ceiling we will suffer even worse consequences, and we may never recover. Future generations of Americans don't deserve the consequences of the poor decisions being made in Washington these days.

It is time for Congress to work together, and yes, to fiscally compromise for the sake of our nation. But raising taxes is not the compromise I have in mind -- the compromise should be about where and what we cut. Conservatives will have to compromise by decreasing military spending, and liberals will have to compromise by cutting social programs. We have too much on our plate, and this current over-reaching government spending policy is what has put America in debt to begin with.

While our nation is reeling toward a major fiscal crisis, Senate Democrat leadership is doing nothing to fix the problem. Fed up with their inaction, last week I jumpstarted the debate on this issue by bringing an amendment to the Senate floor proposing an increase to the debt limit by $2.4 trillion. This increase is free of any spending conditions or regulations. I plan to vote no on my proposed amendment. This bill would most certainly fail to pass, however by proposing this bill I am attempting to begin the debate. It appears as if Senate legislators are planning to wait until the last minute before debating the debt ceiling, in an attempt to be in "crisis" mode and force the Senate to act irresponsibly yet again. This is not a topic that should be placed on the backburner.

My proposed amendment to raise the debt ceiling will fail, thus illustrating to the Administration and Senate Democrats that the debt ceiling cannot be raised absent an iron-clad rule for budgetary restraint and spending regulations.

In a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, 71 percent of Americans said they were opposed to raising the debt ceiling. The American people are tired of the on-going fiscal mayhem, and it is time that legislators propose serious and realistic solutions.

Our government has invested in a pay-as-you-go system, which was broken 700 times in the late '90s and the early part of this century. We need a new plan, with real restraints, plus immediate cuts. That is why I have joined fellow Members of Congress and thousands of Americans in signing the Cut, Cap and Balance Pledge. This pledge calls upon Congress to make substantial cuts in spending that will reduce the deficit next year and thereafter, enforce spending caps that will put federal spending on a path to a balanced budget and pass a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In order to truly rein in the debt, we must pass a balanced budget amendment. This amendment would implement a much-needed iron-clad rule that would require a balanced federal budget. I believe a balanced budget is the most practical method for maintaining fiscal responsibility. 

With the proposed balanced budget amendment, the federal government would be required by law to balance the budget, prohibiting any expenditure that exceeds the set budget restraints. As I have stated before, I believe that bold actions must be taken in order to defeat our mounting national debt and balance the budget. If you believe that America is headed for demise due to fiscal irresponsibility, I urge you to visit the Cut, Cap and Balance website and sign the pledge. We must make cuts and rein in spending, and I will do all I can to lead our country down a road of fiscal responsibility. 

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About the Author

Rand Paul is a U.S. Senator from Kentucky.