Congressman Jeff Miller's Newsletter
The size of our national debt is astounding, and its rapid expansion is extremely troubling as it continues to threaten our economy and hamper the ability of businesses to grow. We cannot risk the future prosperity of our nation by continuing to recklessly spend money and heap trillions of dollars of debt on the backs of our children and grandchildren.
The idea that massive debts are harmful to the government, and that laws should be put in place to safeguard taxpayers from these consequences, is not a new idea. Thomas Jefferson advocated for a balanced budget over 200 years ago. In 1982, in a speech to the nation on the federal budget, President Reagan told us, “We have tried the carrot and it failed, but with the stick of a Balanced Budget Amendment we can stop government’s squandering overtaxing ways and save our economy.” And in 1995, a Balanced Budget Amendment passed the House of Representatives only to fall one vote short in the Senate of receiving the necessary two-thirds majority required to send a constitutional amendment to the states for ratification.
In the sixteen years since, our national debt has nearly tripled in size, growing by almost $10 trillion, or approximately $1.6 billion per day. This year alone the federal government will spend $3.7 trillion, while only collecting $2.2 trillion in revenue, meaning that more than 40 cents out of every dollar that we spend is borrowed money. In fact, all federal spending after July 27 of this year has come from borrowed money.
Our budgetary problems are difficult, but the ultimate answer is simple. Last week, the House of Representatives voted on the solution. We held a vote on a four page bill that has the power to fundamentally change the flawed way that Washington spends taxpayer money by sending a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment to the states for ratification. This commonsense bill would have forced the federal government to abide by the same basic budgetary principle that guides families throughout the nation and 49 out of 50 state governments: don’t spend more than you take in. Despite the fact that Republicans overwhelmingly supported the Balanced Budget Amendment, I am deeply concerned that fewer than 30 Democrats voted in favor of the bill, which failed to achieve the necessary two-thirds majority. Some Democrat Members who voted in favor of a Balanced Budget Amendment in 1995 changed their position for partisan reasons, thwarting the will of the people.
It is essential to reduce spending now, and House Republicans have been leading this effort since day one of the 112th Congress. But the fact is that any spending reductions we make now can be offset in future congresses by more reckless spending. That is why it is imperative to pass a measure to permanently ensure that our federal government operates in a manner that is fiscally responsible. But House Democrats obstructed the passage of a simple solution supported by nearly three quarters of Americans that would help solve our debt crisis.
I have consistently supported a Balanced Budget Amendment since I came to Congress. Throughout these years, I have seen support for it continue to grow. Today, more than 65 percent of Americans support a Balanced Budget Amendment. They support it because they realize that a Balanced Budget Amendment is a game-changer. They realize that our federal budget and the state of our economy are tied together, and that passing a Balanced Budget Amendment would help to provide some much needed economic certainty to American businesses and entrepreneurs. I was extremely disappointed to see my colleagues on the other side of the aisle stand in the way of its final passage. The need to fundamentally change the way Washington spends taxpayer money is imperative. As we have seen and many have felt, an unbalanced budget with record deficits is a recipe for disaster. Congress should not force American taxpayers to stomach the consequences of fiscal irresponsibility and the American people should not accept it.