You have likely been hearing a lot about the looming ‘fiscal cliff’ that is on the horizon at the end of this year. The term ‘fiscal cliff’ refers to the effect that a number of laws which, if left unchanged, would result in tax increases and automatic spending cuts at the beginning of next year. Lawmakers in Washington are negotiating a legislative package to avoid this scenario.
While the situation is complex, I believe it is our duty as elected officials to share with our districts the fiscal reality of our situation. I also believe that when Americans are given good information, they make good decisions! Here is where I stand on this issue: our country has a significant spending problem. We are currently spending 24% of our gross domestic product (GDP). That is way outside of our historic norms. On the other side of the ledger, we collect on average 16.9% of GDP in revenues -- and even less than that more recently. This, too, is historic. We haven’t run our country on that level of funding since 1959 – before I was born, when our flag only had 48 stars, and before the existence of Medicare and Medicaid!
This tremendous gap between our spending and revenue must be addressed. That is why I am advocating for a comprehensive agreement – one that addresses both the revenue side through economic growth and tax reform and the spending side through substantive entitlement reform. (Even the President acknowledged the need for entitlement reform in his press conference last week when he said: “I believe that we have to continue to take a serious look at how we reform our entitlements, because health care costs continue to be the biggest driver of our deficits.”)
Leadership is not just saying the right things; it is also doing the right things. The consequences of not coming to an agreement are so severe for our country that this threatens every Republican, Democrat, Independent – indeed each and every American. But I am an optimist. I believe we can, and we will, make the tough choices necessary to get this country back on track. We’re Americans; we can do this!
Finally, I want to mention that our thoughts and prayers are with Israel during this troubling and turbulent time. The United States must stand with our friend and ally as she exercises her inherent right and moral obligation to defend herself.
Mindful that I work for you, I remain
Yours in Freedom,