Vern Buchanan: We need a balanced budget amendment

A disturbing new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) warns that America’s growing debt could choke economic growth and lead to a death spiral from which there is no recovery.

The CBO’s report should give new energy and urgency to the call for a Constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment.

The national debt is a ticking time bomb that threatens every American, young and old. It currently exceeds $18 trillion and is projected to top $27 trillion within the next decade.

The growth of so-called mandatory spending – programs that run on autopilot – will drive much of the increase in our debt over the coming years.

Such programs will leave little room for funding key priorities such as national defense, economic development and veterans’ services.

I have long argued that a Balanced Budget Amendment is the best solution to this imminent fiscal crisis. It was the very first measure I introduced as a member of Congress and a cause I continue to champion as a member of the House Budget Committee. We must force Washington to balance its books.

Forty-nine out of 50 states, including my home state of Florida, have balanced budget requirements.

In Florida, we make the tough choices in our budget every year as part of our obligation to be responsible stewards of the taxpayers’ money.

Why should Washington be held to a different standard?

There is good news for those who believe in a balanced budget and a return to fiscal sanity.

This year, for the first time in over a decade, both the House and the Senate passed a federal budget that actually balances, reduces spending by more than $5 trillion, and creates 1.2 million new jobs. It also calls for Congress to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

This stands in stark contrast to the administration’s proposed budget which would have added more than $8 trillion to our debt, raised taxes by over $2 trillion and never balanced. Fortunately, it was dead on arrival in this Congress.

Public opinion is also on our side.  When Fox News last asked the question, 85 percent of respondents thought that the federal government should be required to balance its budget.

If we are going to rebuild the prosperity that was once the envy of the world, we must act now. The nation’s debt is an albatross around the necks of our children and grandchildren, weighing down their ability to realize the American dream.

I agree with those who have described the burden we are passing on as “generational theft.” We are mortgaging the futures of the next generation of Americans because we lack the will to do the hard work and make the tough choices today.

That urgent effort begins with breaking the destructive cycle of tax, spend and borrow and forcing Washington to live within its means.

Republican Vern Buchanan represents Florida’s 16th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is in his fifth term in the House of Representatives and is Florida’s only member of the House Ways and Means Committee. He also is on the House Budget Committee. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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