Opinion: We must reclaim moral and fiscal discipline
The following Op-Ed by Congressman Stewart was published on KSL.com on Jan. 31, 2013.
WASHINGTON — One of the primary reasons I ran for Congress was my commitment to cut our federal spending. We are standing at a tipping point in our history. We must reclaim the moral and fiscal discipline that created the American dream. What we do now will determine what kind of nation and what kind of future we pass on to our children and grandchildren.
When President Obama was elected, our country was about $10.5 trillion in debt. In just four years, that debt has been raised to more than $16 trillion, an amount that is growing every day. To put this in perspective, our nation is like a family making $12.80 an hour, or about $26,000 a year. Yet this family spends more than $36,000 every year. And they have more than $163,000 in credit card debt. Put this way, it is easy to see that our debt is unsustainable. And it's only getting worse.
Based on President Obama's last budget proposal, our national debt will reach $25.9 trillion by the year 2022. This kind of debt will have catastrophic consequences. It will invite a downgrade of our nation's credit. It will do long-lasting damage to our economy, hurting families and small businesses and destroying jobs. And let's remember this: a nation that is bankrupt cannot provide for our mutual defense. Nor can it provide a social safety net. No wonder the president's budget did not receive a single vote in Congress.
One crucial step toward the path to fiscal sanity is passing and sticking to a federal budget. The Senate has not passed a budget for almost four years. In contrast — as required by law and common sense — House Republicans have passed responsible budgets the last two years. These budgets promote economic growth and address our debt crisis to ensure future generations have the same opportunities as we.
Once again, Republicans in the House are committed to passing a budget. This commitment led to the overwhelmingly bipartisan support and passage of the "No Budget, No Pay" Act last week. This bill gives the House and the Senate three months to pass a budget. If they don't, Members' pay will be withheld for every day they fail to fulfill this most basic responsibility. The principle is simple: no budget, no pay.
Hardworking families and small businesses in Utah and across the country have budgets and are responsible for sticking to those budgets. Congress should be held to that same standard.
Passing a reasonable budget matters to hard-working taxpayers in every corner of Utah. It matters to seniors who rely on their benefits each month, to middle-class families who can't afford to see their taxes go up, and to our children whose futures will be limited if Washington doesn't start living within its means.
Now is the time for Congress to show leadership. Now is the time for the Senate to act. It's time to pass a budget and work to end the trillion-dollar deficits. We need to put our country back on a path to a strong economic future — a future of growth, not decline. In Washington, we must have the moral courage to make the hard decisions that will save our country.