President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy met at the White House last week to kick off a dialogue about much-needed spending reforms and raising our nation’s exploding debt limit yet again.
After years of overspending due to the COVID-19 pandemic and irresponsible uni-party politicians who are incapable of restraint, our national debt has ballooned to a once-unimaginable $31 trillion with no end in sight.
For far too long, leaders from both parties have drifted aimlessly from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis and deadline to deadline, with the final result, virtually always turning out the same: Just kick the can down the road one more time. Just this past December, it was the issue of funding the federal government and whether to pass another multitrillion-dollar omnibus bill monstrosity or pass a short-term continuing resolution until the new Republican majority in the House took power.
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And per usual, the swamp prevailed by passing a 4,000-page, $1.7 trillion bill that no one read or seriously debated before voting on it. The entire episode amounted to a stunning abuse of power, and the American people took notice.
There hasn’t been a serious debate about budgeting and spending in Washington since 2011, when House conservatives led by Rep. Jim Jordan and other tea party-backed change agents demanded spending caps in exchange for a debt ceiling increase. Then-Vice President Joe Biden was more than happy to negotiate a compromise agreement that became known as the Budget Control Act.
Now, 12 years later, America is again in desperate need of a no-nonsense spending discussion followed by meaningful action. The Washington establishment and mainstream media don’t agree; instead, they’re busy warning Mr. McCarthy and the House GOP not to fight for any fiscally responsible legislation whatsoever. Audible gasps can be heard if anyone dares to mention the words “reform” or “cut” in the halls of Congress.
There is no appetite in America for another useless commission to pontificate about the root causes of our national debt disaster. Hardworking American taxpayers already know the reason: career politicians spend their hard-earned money like unaccountable drunken sailors. And any attempt to slow the spending party down — even marginally — is met with a full-throated temper tantrum. Mr. Biden and the Democrats’ absurd position at the moment is, don’t you dare think about cutting one dollar!
This is the crazy upside-down world we live in; fiscal responsibility is frowned upon, and the left attacks common sense. The very career politicians who paved the way for our $31 trillion national debt aren’t willing to acknowledge the problem that’s staring them right in the face. They won’t negotiate or compromise, and they oppose regular order, open debate, the appropriations process and transparency — all hallmarks of a healthy constitutional republic.
Democrats won’t entertain modest cuts to discretionary spending, much less engage in a responsible discussion about how to ensure Social Security remains solvent for future generations — they would much rather leave it to someone else some other time. Liberals and RINOs simply have no interest in tackling the debt crisis they so gleefully created.
It wasn’t always like this. Just 22 years ago, America had a balanced federal budget and a modest, by today’s standards, $5 trillion national debt. In other words, it took over 200 years for our country to accumulate a $5 trillion debt and only two decades to jump to an unsustainable $31 trillion.
Many leaders refuse to speak of it, much less address our spending crisis. Their broken status quo is a warm, cozy blanket, and they can’t let go. That was until last year’s midterm election when the American people once again decided to check on the big spenders by electing a conservative reform-minded majority in the House of Representatives.
Mr. Jordan, Reps. Scott Perry, Chip Roy and other courageous conservatives are busy pushing inconvenient things like fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability — and it’s downright refreshing.
A compromise on a federal spending reform package this year would be seen by the rest of the world as America leading by example and doing the right thing — even when it’s hard. It will show our friends and foes alike that the reports of our decline have been greatly exaggerated. We can’t kick the can down the road forever. Now that the pandemic is in the rearview mirror and emergency federal expenditures are no longer necessary, it’s the perfect time to get our fiscal house in order and get back to normal.
So if not now, when?
• David N. Bossie is president of Citizens United and served as deputy campaign manager for Donald J. Trump for President.