Debt limit and spending reforms are inextricably linked

Rep. Tom Price Vice Chairman, House Committee on the Budget
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It is disappointing, though predictable, that President Obama, members of his cabinet, and his faithful allies on Capitol Hill are urging an increase in the nation’s debt limit without including real budget reforms, spending reductions and controls. For decades, Congress has been raising the limit on the amount of money the United States can borrow. Democrats blindly raised it six times in just the last four years. We have amassed a national debt of nearly $14.3 trillion — that is $45,000 per American — and projections indicate that by 2030 our debt as a share of our economy will be an astonishing 146%. No nation can sustain such a weight against its economy.

This disastrous cycle must stop! Congress cannot keep giving itself extra room on the credit card in hopes that its spending habits might change. It is our time and our responsibility to bring an end to the broken ways of Washington.

House Republicans have already successfully changed the conversation in Washington from spending to cutting. However, we simply must institute concrete, structural reforms to the way Congress spends hard-earned taxpayer dollars. Our debt crisis hasn’t occurred because we tax too little; it has occurred because we spend too much! The debt limit debate and spending reform are inextricably linked.

Any discussion about raising the debt limit must begin with a plan to rein in federal spending in the near-term and long-term. In the near-term, we need substantial spending reductions. Going forward, there should be in place hard controls on spending that do not have the usual Washington loopholes that allow future Congresses to avoid the tough choices. And while a bit more long-term, a balanced budget amendment would ensure the government lives within its means, just like families and businesses do all across America.

Democrats claim that this discussion of spending reductions, controls, and budget process reforms should be, at best, ancillary to the debate on the debt limit rather than a direct part of it. In other words, they want to kick those issues further down the road. These are the same folks that believe the best way to address our spending problem is to raise taxes on families and job creators. Neither the Obama administration nor Congressional Democrats have offered a substantive plan that would avert a future crippled by unprecedented debt and insolvent health and retirement security programs. They have managed to delude themselves into believing the urgency to get our debt under control is overstated. If President Obama believes that America should live within its means, as he says, he ought to demonstrate how we can get there, rather than asking that we increase the debt limit to accommodate his trillion-dollar annual deficits.

An increase in the debt limit without other responsible measures and reforms is absolutely reckless. It would say to the American people, investors and job creators at home and abroad that America’s leaders are not serious about putting our fiscal house in order. Economists have been warning Congress that ignoring this issue, or only paying it lip service, is a recipe for disaster. Standard and Poor’s recently downgraded its outlook on America’s debt from stable to negative. Yet, between campaign stops where he distorts substantive Republican proposals, the president wants to disassociate an increase in the debt ceiling from spending reforms. The evidence suggests that the Obama administration and Democrats are not serious about these challenges.

What House Republicans have proposed to do to tackle our spending-driven debt crisis is an honest plan that puts us on a path to prosperity and a balanced budget. We deal with the drivers of our debt head on; we offer positive solutions; and we do so in an open, truthful conversation with the American people. All we have seen from Democrats in Washington is political posturing to better position themselves for upcoming elections, and nothing to protect us, our children and our grandchildren from economic collapse.

The onus rests with the White House and its Congressional allies on Capitol Hill to join Republicans and seize the mantle of leadership — not to just clean up the mess of the past, but to build a more promising future.

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) serves as Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee and is the fifth-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives. He is a member of the House Budget Committee and Ways and Means Committee.