Idaho Examiner - Sen. Larry Craig News Releases

Friday, January 28, 2005

Restoring our Balance

by Senator Larry Craig

Like you, most Idahoans I know are pretty fiscally responsible. If there’s something we need, we save up until we have enough money to buy it. If that item is expensive, well, then we do without until we can afford it. Sure, we might break out the credit card every now and then, but only rarely. We don’t like to make a practice out of being in debt.

Unfortunately, the federal government has gotten a little too much practice at spending more than it takes in. For a brief time, under strong leadership in Congress, we balanced the budget for four years in a row – from 1998 to 2001. I wish I could say that balancing the federal budget was not so unusual, but before 1998, the government was deficit spending for 28 years in a row, and for 59 out of the previous 67 years. Not a good record.
I am committed to fighting for a permanent change in this spending habit. That’s why I’ve just reintroduced a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. Deficit spending should be a rarity, an exception, but it has become the rule in Congress. We need to make sure that it becomes a phenomenon, not the regular way of doing business. I believe a balanced budget is so important that this amendment is the first piece of legislation I introduced in the 109th Congress.

Time after time, economists cite federal deficit spending as one of the biggest burdens holding back the economy. If the federal government is fiscally responsible and capable of honoring its financial obligations, that sends the signal to world markets that our nation and its economy are strong. Private and personal resources not vacuumed up by higher taxes or lending to government would be invested in American jobs and enterprises, causing our economy to grow. This means more jobs at better wages, and workers and families are the ones who benefit.

Jobs are not the only reason for a balanced budget. For the federal government, just like for the family, borrowing money delays the honoring of obligations. It also compounds the amount owed and the cost of interest payments. Over time, the government will pass these obligations on to future generations in the form of higher taxes to pay ever-mounting interest on that debt.

As more money is diverted to debt service, that eventually will imperil our ability to pay for virtually all other government services and benefits, from defense to law enforcement to Medicare. I think you’ll agree this is morally wrong. The federal government should not make future generations pay for our lack of restraint and responsibility today.

Debt reduces our ability to be flexible in addressing challenges. In a world of terrorism, change, and growing economies in Asia, the United States will need to use all the resources available to us in order to stay out in front. We should not consign our children to meet these challenges with one hand tied behind their backs.

The Balanced Budget Amendment I have introduced will impose some much-needed discipline that will far outlive any politician or movement. It is essentially the same as the
amendment that came within one vote of the two-thirds necessary for passage, twice in two previous Senates. It will not count the Social Security surplus in its calculation of a balanced budget, so the annual surpluses will be set aside exclusively to meet the future needs of Social Security beneficiaries.

It is a new year and a new Senate. Congress holds the opportunity of a fresh start, and hopefully, the wisdom of experience. As the year moves on, I’ll be looking for every opportunity to convince my colleagues to safeguard America’s economic future and pass a Balanced Budget Amendment and send it to the states for consideration. The people balance their checkbooks. The federal government should too.

NOTE: To link directly to the press release, please use the following link:


Post a Comment

<< Home