Friday marks the start of a new fiscal year for the federal government and provides an opportunity to assess the fiscal health of our nation. The diagnosis is grim.
The federal government now spends $7 million a minute. Our national debt is more than $13 trillion, which means every man, woman and child owes $42,000 to foreign governments and other debt holders.
In the next two years, our debt will exceed the size of our economy. Within three years, the government will spend more than $1 billion a day just to pay the interest on our debt. The debt will double in 10 years.
Unprecedented fiscal recklessness is to blame. Nonsecurity discretionary spending has increased by nearly 90% over the past three years. The federal government is spending money it doesn't have while working families and small businesses must find ways to make do with less.
What has all this spending done for Americans? Since the $800 billion stimulus package was passed in early 2009, we have lost nearly 3 million jobs and the unemployment rate has consistently hovered around 10%. And every business in America knows that where reckless spending is found, higher tax rates are sure to follow.
After spending so wildly with nothing to show for it, the new fiscal year ought to mark the beginning of renewed fiscal restraint. Sadly, we're beginning fiscal year 2011 on even shakier footing.
For the first time since modern budgeting rules were adopted in 1974, the U.S. House of Representatives will fail to pass a budget. Without a budget, we cannot set priorities, review our debt, rationally consider our revenue or direct the course of spending for our nation.
The news only gets worse. By Oct. 1 of each year, Congress is also supposed to have passed the 12 appropriations bills that fund the federal government for the new fiscal year. This year, Congress has yet to pass any of these 12 critical appropriation measures.
But hope is not lost. Fiscal 2011 does not have to be like last year. We can turn things around. We can pass a budget, end the spending binge and make the necessary appropriations. We can provide the certainty that businesses need to grow and create jobs.
The first step is to cancel unspent stimulus funds and block any attempt to extend the timeline for spending such funds. We can save another $100 billion by returning government spending to pre-stimulus levels. Next, we should cap discretionary spending, cut Congress' budget and end the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
By making these common-sense reforms, we will return our nation to economic stability and prosperity. It's not too late. This should be our fiscal new year's resolution.
• Djou is a newly elected congressman representing Hawaii's 1st Congressional District, the first Republican in 20 years to do so.
Sunday, October 03, 2010
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 10/03/2010 12:33:00 PM