The Great Scandal
by 3rd District U.S. Representative for South Carolina Jeff Duncan
Last week, the media focused on the appalling indiscretions of New York Congressman Anthony Weiner. The story is nothing short of tabloid gold, a government official breaking the public’s trust, deceiving Americans while engaging in conduct unbecoming of a Member of Congress. Congressman Weiner’s actions have sparked a flood of media coverage and public outrage, but while attention has been on tweets and photographs, there’s a far greater scandal brewing within the United States.
Much like “Weinergate,” this other scandal involves lost trust, broken promises, and moral misconduct. However, what makes this situation even more damaging is that it directly impacts every American, (especially future generations) and puts our nation’s security at risk. So what offence could possibly be on par with Watergate and make Chicago politics seem squeaky clean in comparison? It’s our country’s national debt, our government’s addiction to spending, and the failure of public officials to address the problem.
In the hour the nation spent waiting for and then watching the Anthony Weiner press conference, our country ran up $168 million in new debt, adding up to $4 billion in new debt every single day. We are now the greatest debtor nation in the history of the world and if we don’t implement common sense reforms immediately, I’m afraid we may look back a few years from now and refer to 9% unemployment as “the good ole days.”
Political scandals normally involve some type of morally appalling behavior. One of the most disgusting behaviors I’ve seen during this “Spend-Gate” scandal is the dishonesty and political posturing during a time when we should be coming together as a nation to solve this problem.
The scare tactics that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has used about the debt fall into this category.
Instead of focusing on what might happen if the US chose not to raise our nation’s debt ceiling, Geithner should talk about what will happen if we don’t act quickly to control government spending.
More than 40 cents of every dollar the federal government spends this year will be borrowed. Currently entitlement spending alone combined with the interest on our debt is enough to put America in the red. In just 9 years Medicare is set to go bankrupt. In 50 years, it will take 100% of US tax revenue just keep up with our interest payments on the debt.
The problem is real, and it’s really big. If we leave government spending unchecked, our debt will exceed our nation’s GDP within the next two to five years, slowing economic growth and increasing unemployment.
In fact, the ratings firm Standard & Poor’s warned the United States back in April that if lawmakers don’t act quickly to cut spending, the firm would be forced to downgrade our country’s economic outlook from “stable” to “negative.”
A few months ago House Republicans submitted a credible, realistic proposal that would have dramatically cut spending while rescuing Medicare for seniors.
The Republican Budget Committee plan balanced the budget in about a decade, and paid down the national debt completely by the middle of the century.
In contrast, President Obama’s budget proposal left our level of spending practically unchanged, and was recently rejected by the Senate 0-97.
Instead of offering realistic solutions to cut spending, the President has shown that he would rather distort conservative proposals to scare seniors. That’s not leadership Mr. President, that’s just flat wrong.
During a meeting at the White House a few weeks ago, the President told members of Congress that our country doesn’t have a spending problem but rather a revenue problem.
With all due respect to the President, we didn’t get in $14 trillion dollars in debt because we tax too little; we’re in debt because we spend too much.
Raising taxes on job creators won’t create jobs and failing to address our debt situation risks putting our country in a permanent recession. Only by forcing our government to live within its means like American families do every day will we be able to put “Spend-Gate” to rest.
The situation we find ourselves in reminds me of the analogy of the frog and the pot. Had our debt problem appeared out of nowhere, perhaps like a frog being dropped into boiling water, we would have reacted quickly and made changes to protect us from financial disaster. However, this debt “scandal” has been decades in the making, with Democrats and Republicans sharing the blame for our nation’s spending addiction. The danger of our debt hasn’t appeared suddenly, but it has been growing slowly and increases with the passing of every day.
Let me be clear, I believe we can rescue this nation. I believe America’s best days are ahead of us. But as Ronald Reagan once said, “we must act now in order preserve tomorrow.” No more budget tricks. No more accounting gimmicks. No more empty promises. We must act swiftly and thoroughly to solve our nation’s debt crisis once and for all or we risk leaving a nation for our children and grandchildren that looks radically different from the country we love today.