Excuses or Progress?
A few months ago, I wrote an
op-ed where I suggested that we are at risk to be hit with a . To avert this danger, it is time to
make the decisions to reform government spending. We can make progress, or we can make excuses. Washington has
run out of excuses. It's time for the people to make progress.
I have written a follow-up op-ed that was that identifies several examples where both parties in
Washington have refused to make the difficult choices to cut spending, and
it also suggests what we need to do to get back on
The last time Congress was close to
passing legislation that required the federal government to balance its
budget the national debt stood at $5.3 trillion. Since then, the national
debt has nearly tripled to $16.4 trillion.
Both parties in
Washington share in the blame. Republicans and Democrats have
controlled the presidency and each house of Congress during the massive
expansion of our national debt. And although each side talks about fiscal
responsibility, spending reductions, and eliminating our deficit, very
few in Washington are willing to do anything about it.
week provides a new example of Washington's inability to make even
the smallest bit of progress. Last week, I attempted to cut just
one-half of one percent ($6.3 billion) in total federal spending for the year
in order to pay for funding to help disaster relief victims. The vote
failed as 62 senators from both parties opposed cutting the tiniest
fraction of spending.
Over the last two years, the Senate
has voted repeatedly to waive spending limits it imposed on itself. The
recent "fiscal cliff" deal, again supported by both parties, postponed
mandatory spending cuts while raising taxes on every hardworking
In 2011, 60 senators opposed
a measure that cut just $10 billion from a spending bill that cost
hundreds of billions of dollars. Last year, 70 senators refused to reduce
slightly the price tag of a government program that actually pays
people not to use their land.
Further, three senators, including myself, introduced budgets last
year that balanced the books within the next decade. Bipartisan
majorities rejected them all.
have seen with the failure of self-imposed, statutory spending limits,
we cannot rely on laws that can be waived with a simple majority.
That's why we need to enact a permanent structural spending restraint
that will bind future Congresses.
I have submitted legislation (S.J.Res. 1) to amend the Constitution to require the federal
government to spend no more than it takes in each year. It limits total
federal spending to a level just above the historical average of total
The amendment requires the support of two-thirds of both the Senate and
the House to run a deficit in any fiscal year. This amendment would
also require the same threshold for raising the debt limit.
My amendment would not require a
single cut in spending today, but it would force future Congresses to plan
a path to balance. It would also foster a much-needed dialogue about
our national priorities and what kind of government Americans want. The
process of ratifying the amendment in three-quarters of the states
would raise the voice of every citizen, as well as provide a reasonable
glide path for Congress to make the necessary spending reforms. For
good measure, Congress would have an additional year post-ratification
to ensure the budget is balanced.
Only in Washington is proper fiscal management a foreign
concept. Individuals, families, and businesses all face serious consequences
if they run up too much debt. Forty-nine states, including Utah, have
some formal requirement to balance their budgets, and cash-strapped
local governments constantly make tough choices as they set priorities.
It is time that we require Washington to do the
Utah has been a leader in calling for the
federal government to get its fiscal house in order. In 2011, the state
legislature passed a resolution in favor of a balanced budget
amendment to the Constitution.
fiscal mess is a bipartisan problem caused by a dysfunctional system
that afflicts Democrats, Republicans, liberals, and conservatives. To
fix it we need a neutral solution that forces all of Washington to
comply regardless of who is in power.
We can make progress or we can make excuses. Washington has run
out of excuses. It's time for the people to make progress.