Putting America on the path to prosperity

Rep. Phil Roe Contributor
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For too long, our government has been fiscally irresponsible and allowed reckless spending that has added three trillion dollars to the national debt in just the two years since Obama took office. In fact, since Democrats took control of Congress in 2007, we’ve seen our debt level increased by 91 percent. These actions have serious consequences. The health of the American economy is at risk, and we must work together to put America back on the path to prosperity.

First, we need to make clear that the spending spree is over and that there is a mess to clean up. We need to significantly reduce spending in Congress, in order to lower the deficit. Even though revenues are at their highest levels in history, the increases in spending over the years have exceeded the revenue increases. Reining in this spending will help get our nation’s finances under control.

In addition to issuing significant spending cuts, this Congress needs to focus on ways to balance the budget. This is not a simple task, but it is an important goal we must work towards if we are going to fix the economy. For this reason, I am a co-sponsor of H.J.Res. 1, a balanced budget constitutional amendment introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte that would force future Congresses to balance the budget, except in the case of war or military conflict.

But until this happens, we must deal with the consequences in front of us caused by the rising debt levels, because if we don’t, this nation runs the risk of defaulting on debt. In the near future, to avoid defaulting on debt, this Congress will be asked to raise the debt ceiling. A failure to raise the ceiling could result in the nation defaulting on its debts to investors and a catastrophic economic collapse. If we don’t raise the debt ceiling, we will risk the full faith and credit of the nation. This simply cannot be allowed to happen.

With that being said, however, it is equally clear that we cannot accept business as usual. The fiscal direction of this country must change. We cannot even attempt to raise the debt ceiling if we do not have a plan in place to improve our country’s fiscal and economic future. This must include significant spending cuts, because reaching the current debt ceiling is only a symptom of the fact that our fiscal policy is way off track.

Moving forward, this Congress needs to focus on implementing an agenda that promotes economic growth and gives us a competitive edge globally. That means promoting trade, keeping taxes low, reducing spending and passing sound regulations. These are the fundamentals that will bring about economic growth and prosperity.

Finally, regarding the tragic event that took place in Tucson, Arizona this weekend, my thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her family. I am also praying for the families of Judge Roll, Gabe Zimmerman and all of those who were taken from us on Saturday during the tragic event.

On Monday morning, our nation observed a moment of silence to honor the innocent victims of the senseless tragedy in Arizona, including those still fighting for their lives. At times such as these, it is essential that we remind each other that, while it’s okay to have differences, we must never let our differences keep us from treating each other with respect. It’s critical we work together for the betterment of America.

Rep. Phil Roe represents Tennessee’s First Congressional District.