With over $13 trillion in national debt and the recent projection that it will top 100% of GDP in 2012, we are entering uncharted fiscal waters which threaten our economy. Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University has found that economic growth is 2.6 percentage points higher for countries with debt below 30 percent of GDP than for countries with debt above 90 percent of GDP. If Washington continues to do nothing, America is headed for a Greece-like debt catastrophe.
Fortunately, there are many strong candidates from outside of Washington running this year that recognize this dire fiscal situation and agree that addressing our nation’s debt problem is a top priority. They believe – as do I – that we cannot address the debt with tax increases. It can only be overcome with rapid economic growth and cutting spending.
One of those candidates willing to put forth fiscally-sound ideas that are not necessarily popular is Marco Rubio, who is running for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat. On Monday, he announced his 12 ideas to cut deficit spending in Washington. Rubio’s plan, a mix of budget reductions and enforcement mechanisms, would save hundreds of billions in taxpayer dollars and get us get back on the right track toward a balanced budget. Among Rubio’s specific spending reductions: Cancel almost $300 billion from the unspent stimulus funds, repeal and reform Obamacare, cut the budgets for the White House and Congress by 10 percent, and impose a hiring freeze on the Federal civilian workforce. Rubio has courageously called for strengthening and reforming our federal entitlement programs, which are headed towards insolvency if left unchecked.
Another one of Rubio’s ideas: Create a debt check-off box, which would empower citizens to direct up to 10 percent of their annual tax payments to reduce the national debt. Congress would then have to match the total amount contributed by taxpayers with an equivalent amount of spending cuts; if they don’t, across-the-board spending cuts would be automatically triggered. To be sure, this proposal would not “retire” the debt, but it would certainly produce less annual deficit spending than would otherwise be the case.
As strong as each idea is individually, together they represent a strong prescription to begin to solve our nation’s fiscal woes. More importantly, Rubio is combining his push to cut spending with an equally strong set of ideas to grow the economy and create a pro-jobs business environment. Marco Rubio’s 35 ideas to create jobs, grow the economy, help the Gulf Coast and cut government spending represent a realization that while Washington bickers, real solutions are to be had and are possible.
Cesar Conda is a Founding Principal and Executive Committee Member of Navigators Global LLC, a bipartisan government relations and strategic communications firm with offices in Washington, D.C., New York, and London.