LARRY ELDER: Here’s A Fiscal Fix: Politicians Cap Government Spending, Or They Leave Office

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Larry Elder Larry Elder is a best-selling author and nationally syndicated radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com. Follow Larry on Twitter @larryelder.
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With a debt ceiling deal reached, Congress is back to “business as usual.” America’s career politicians are ready to borrow and spend unlimited sums in the years ahead, whatever the fiscal consequences.

The recent weeks of partisan bickering simply reminds us that the Washington swamp spends way, way too much money. The national debt currently hovers around $32 trillion. The U.S. budget deficit, meanwhile, is expected to exceed $1 trillion in 2023 and this does not include unfunded liabilities that amount to taking more.

We are in the red because of outrageous federal spending, which surpasses $6 trillion per year. If America’s federal government spending were a standalone country, it would boast the third largest economy in the world—ahead of Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Reality check: America doesn’t have a revenue problem. America has a spending problem, regardless of the deal currently being discussed.

To suggest otherwise, as Democrats often do, is simply madness. It is lunacy. It is crazy talk motivated by those who benefit from perpetuating a welfare state through income redistribution—work requirements be darned. Not surprisingly, government spending hit a new record high earlier this year, with the Biden administration openly scoffing at any notion of restraint. Over 10 years, President Biden’s FY 2023 budget proposed $73 trillion in new spending, or 23.4 percent of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP)—the highest sustained level in American history. Taxes would total $58 trillion, again the highest level in U.S. history.

And what about federal deficits? You guessed it: The highest in history too. This is another bridge too far, and there have been many before. Washington, D.C.’s spending sprees and borrowing binges amount to an existential crisis, and one more critical by the day.

Drastic action is needed. Bold steps must be taken. Talk is not enough. While House Republicans have rightly sought to restrain government spending in recent debt ceiling talks, small victories are not good enough—not when spending is this shockingly high.

Here’s an idea: Cap government spending at 10 percent of GDP—less than half of Biden’s proposal—and attach real consequences to surpassing it. My proposal is to enact a hard spending cap that, if surpassed, results in the president and all sitting members of Congress losing their right to run for re-election in the next cycle.

There is no excuse for President Biden or members of Congress to spend like there’s no tomorrow. Spend enough, and there will be no tomorrow, at least not from a fiscal health perspective. The spending problem is impossible to address without a hard cap in place—one that carries real repercussions if (when) ignored.

You know who else thinks so? Biden ally Warren Buffett, who once quipped that sitting members of Congress should be ineligible for re-election whenever there is a budget deficit of more than three percent of GDP. As Buffett realizes, those in power will otherwise stay in power without ever taking accountability for their disastrous decision-making.

America is in decline, but this decline is not inevitable. Americans just need leaders who will recognize the gravity of the spending problem and can work to reduce the bloat of Big Government. There’s more to the problem than just the debt and the deficit themselves. It is a structural issue, stemming from the size and scope of the federal government as a whole. And that can only be addressed with drastic, sustained spending cuts.

The Founding Fathers designed the Constitution as a contract that limits the size and scope of the federal government, and we must get back to respecting the terms of that contract. The government was never meant to be a bloated bureaucracy, and yet our bloat is now the most burdensome in the entire world.

Even short-term spending cuts, while necessary, are not enough. We need to keep spending in check long-term. To ensure that the federal government does not re-bloat, Washington, D.C. has no choice but to limit Big Government to a small, fixed percentage of GDP—or else. The job at hand is to not only alleviate the unsustainable burden of federal spending, but also hold the spenders accountable. The elected officials who are mortgaging our future simply cannot be rewarded with re-election.

If congress will not do this, then we must force them to do so with an amendment to the constitution, if necessary. America’s fiscal malaise isn’t an inevitability; it is a choice, made by detached and cynical career politicians. It’s time to kick them out of office.

Let’s make another choice, a wiser choice, a better choice. Let’s choose new leadership that can restore America’s fiscal sanity.

Larry Elder is a Republican candidate for president of the United States in 2024. He is the author of “As Goes California: My Mission to Rescue the Golden State and Save the Nation.”

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.