In my two short months in office, it has become clear to me that the spending problem in Washington is far worse than many of us feared. For years, politicians have blindly poured more and more borrowed money into ineffective government programs, leaving us with trillion dollar deficits and a crippling debt burden that threatens prosperity and economic growth.In the Florida House of Representatives, where a balanced budget is a requirement, we had to make the tough choices to cut spending where necessary because it was required by state law. By no means was this an easy process, but it was our duty as elected officials to be accountable to our constituents and to future generations of Floridians. In Washington, a balanced budget amendment is not just a fiscally-responsible proposal, it’s a necessary step to curb politicians’ decades-long penchant for overspending.
Several senators have proposed balanced budget amendments that ensure Congress will not spend a penny more than we take in, while setting a high hurdle for future tax hikes. I am a co-sponsor of two balanced budget amendments, since it is clear that these measures would go a long way to reversing the spending gusher we’ve seen from Washington in recent years.
During my Senate campaign, while surrounded by the employees of Jacksonville’s Meridian Technologies, I proposed 12 simple ways to cut spending in Washington. That company, founded 13 years ago, has grown into a 200-employee, high-tech business, and the ideas I proposed would help ensure that similar companies have the opportunity to start or expand just like Meridian did.
To be clear, our unsustainable debt and deficits are threatening companies like Meridian and impeding job creation. In addition to proposing a balanced budget amendment, I recommended canceling unspent “stimulus” funds, banning all earmarks and returning discretionary spending to 2008 levels.
Fortunately, some of my ideas have found their way to the Senate chamber. The first bill I co-sponsored in the Senate was to repeal ObamaCare, the costly overhaul of our nation’s health care system that destroys jobs and impedes our economic recovery. Democratic leaders in the Senate have expressed their willingness to ban earmarks for two years after the Senate Republican conference adopted a moratorium. I have also co-sponsored the REINS Act, a common-sense measure that would increase accountability and transparency in our outdated and burdensome regulatory process. These bills, along with a balanced budget amendment, would help get our country back on a sustainable path and provide certainty to job creators.
While Republicans are proposing a variety of ideas to rein in Washington’s out-of-control spending, unfortunately, President Obama’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year proposes to spend $46 trillion, and even in its best year, the deficit would remain above $600 billion. Worst of all, the President’s budget completely avoids addressing the biggest drivers of our long-term debt – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Rather than tackle these tough, serious issues, President Obama is proposing a litany of tax hikes on small businesses and entrepreneurs, to the tune of more than $1.6 trillion. These tax increases destroy jobs, make us less competitive internationally and hurt our efforts to grow the economy and get our fiscal house in order.
A balanced budget amendment would be a necessary step in reversing Washington’s tax-borrow-spend mantra. It would force Congress to balance its budget each year – not allow it to pass our problems on to the next generation any longer.
Marco Rubio, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Floria and former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.