Congress can solve our debt crisis by passing a conservative budget
© Greg Nash

The Republican Study Committee (RSC) has traditionally been the source of boldly conservative budgets that match the mammoth fiscal challenges facing our nation. The latest installment in their series of fiscal blueprints will hearten those looking for a path out of the economic crisis gripping the American government and economy. If Congress adopts the RSC budget, it will be a significant downpayment on restoring the federal government to a trajectory that respects taxpayers and limited government.

The United States is in the midst of a significant fiscal freefall. The country’s debt is a staggering $19.9 trillion. As Thomas Binion of the Heritage Foundation wrote, “with the exception of Budget Control Act spending caps passed in 2011, which have been routinely scrapped, the Republican Congress has made no progress in curbing reckless federal spending.” Approximately half of the population of the United States is getting some form of federal benefits.

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As the RSC’s budget states, in August 2011, the country lost its AAA long-term credit rating. The legislative process in the House and Senate aren’t functioning properly. This year’s budget process is months behind, the appropriations process is similarly behind schedule, and there appears to be no consensus among lawmakers about what reforms should accompany an increase in the debt ceiling.

 

There is a way to halt and reverse the downward spiral in Congress and provide economic opportunity. The new RSC budget, Securing America’s Future Economy, is the fiscal roadmap called for by these times. It balances the budget by 2023, cuts nondefense spending, ends federal programs that are not consistent with the Constitution, repeals ObamaCare and reforms taxes.

These steps are necessary to get out from under the crushing burden that the federal government has become to the people it purports to serve. In reality, the American people have become the servants of their elected officials. This is starkly illustrated by the fact that last year, Americans spent more on paying their taxes than they did on “food, clothing, and housing combined,” according to the Tax Foundation.

Of prime importance, the RSC’s budget plan would remove obstacles to savings and investment that are currently part of the tax code. The number of tax brackets for individuals would drop to three: 12 percent, 25 percent and 23 percent. The high corporate tax rate is an obstacle to economic growth and job creation. In fact, “the U.S. corporate tax rate is the highest in the developed world, at 39.1 percent, and has remained largely unchanged since the last major overhaul in the mid-1980s.”

The current RSC proposal would fix this by dropping the corporate tax rate “to no more than 20 percent.” These features of the budget would help accelerate individual savings and purchasing, as well as boost employment. All are needed to get our economy out of its present doldrums.

Securing America’s Future Economy proposes significant spending cuts. Programs under the House committees on agriculture, energy and commerce, education and the workforce, financial services, natural resources, oversight and government reform, transportation and infrastructure, and ways and means would be reformed to reduce the size of government and cut spending. In fact, the budget contains over $10 trillion in desperately necessary spending cuts over the next decade.

These cuts are required to trim back what the government does so that it can be shrunk. The lesson of the last 50 years is that big government has been an abject failure at solving real or perceived domestic economic problems through big spending. Reality has to begin to set in. The fiscal rot devastating the country’s economic foundation already has.

Political observers are fond of pointing out that a looming fiscal crisis is facing the United States. The crisis isn’t looming. It is present and persistent. The massive debt accumulated under President George W. Bush and the expansion of government programs he oversaw continued at an even greater clip under President Obama.

The bleak economic future of the United States is as much a mathematical reality as it is a failure of politicians to discern the signs of the times and act commensurate with them. Significant spending cuts need to be made, popular programs must be eliminated, and the states empowered once again as our founders designed them to be.

Better to do the right thing than to whistle pass the graveyard of the American economy while failing to make the obvious and wise decisions to halt American decline. The RSC has produced a budget that reverses the current disastrous budgetary course and charts one to a shining city on a hill. Lawmakers would be wise to adopt the RSC budget while there is a still a chance to make landfall at that city.

Neil Siefring (@NeilSiefring) is vice president of Hilltop Advocacy LLC, a California-based consulting firm, and a former Republican House staffer.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.