Reining in government spending (Rep. Hal Rogers)

While the administration pushed through a failed stimulus bill, continued the mantra of “too big to fail” and lobbied for bailout after bailout for private companies, something was happening to our friends in Greece. All the spending, entitlement programs and massive debt began to catch up with that government and would soon spur panic across the globe.

In April, one month after I questioned Secretary Geithner, Moody’s downgraded Greece’s credit rating because of its deficit, debt and lavish spending. Sound familiar?

That’s because the United States is eerily marching down the same path as Greece. That path is marked with reckless spending, soaring debt and historically high deficits.

In April 2010, Greece’s FY 2009 deficit was estimated at 13.6 percent of the GDP. The U.S. FY 2009 deficit reached a record high of $1.4 trillion, or 9.9 percent of the GDP. If we continue to follow the president’s proposed budget, over the next 10 years our average deficit will surpass the number that brought Greece to its knees.

Then there is the lingering issue of the debt. Greece’s debt reached 115 percent of the GDP and could reach 150 percent of the GDP before too long. Interestingly enough, the CBO reports that the U.S. debt will jump dramatically from 53 percent to 63 percent between FY 2009 and FY 2010. And, just yesterday the Treasury Department estimated that by 2015 the ratio of U.S. debt to GDP would rise 102 percent to nearly $20 trillion.

I wonder if Secretary Geithner would make such a bold statement about the U.S. credit ratings today?

One thing remains clear — the United States has a spending problem. Rather than reign in spending during tough economic times, the liberals in Congress have pushed through a massive healthcare bill that sinks us further into debt, allows the government to control over one-sixth of our nation’s economy, and does nothing to lower healthcare costs. Meanwhile, Americans are still unemployed, they are still hurting, and they are forced to watch their government pass down a burdensome debt to their children and grandchildren.

You would think our nation would learn from Greece’s example. Unfortunately, the administration did what it always does when it faces an uncomfortable economic uncertainty — it approved a taxpayer-funded bailout for Greece. That’s right, you and I are footing $6.8 billion of Greece’s bailout through the IMF.

It is no surprise that in a recent Gallup poll 79 percent of Americans view the federal debt as a very serious threat to the future well-being of the country. If hardworking taxpayers can understand the implications of our government’s reckless fiscal policies, why can’t President Obama, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) or Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)?

Enough is enough. The time to waste opportunities to reign in spending is over. Congress needs to pass a budget that reflects what each and every American family is doing back home — cutting back on spending and reprioritizing for the years ahead. Sticking our heads in the sand will only further our economic challenges and encumber the success of our future generations.

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) is the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.

Cross-posted from the Heritage Foundation

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