We have to stop kicking the can down the road

The fiscal cliff we face at the end of this year is only a shadow of the far more serious cliff our nation faces. If you’ve attended my town halls, you know that each year our nation spends over a trillion dollars more than it takes in. The federal government is operating like someone who spends $78,000 a year on a $50,000 salary. And we’re already over 16 Trillion dollars in debt. That debt affects our entire economy — interest rates, commerce, inflation, and our ability to move forward as a country. If we don’t address our national debt soon, the fiscal cliff will only be the beginning of the crisis.

Still, I’m disappointed to find that the rhetoric in Washington misses the point. Bureaucrats talk as if the problem can be fixed by raising taxes, or making a few spending adjustments. But you can never tax enough, or cut enough, to close a gap bigger than our entire national economy. The key to getting out of debt is the same thing that will get our economy back on track, and is what Americans need most:


If we put people back to work, we will have more money coming in, and we will spend less on welfare and unemployment. Every single American with a job means a double benefit for our economy: more income and less costs. And every employed American means more commerce, more revenue for local businesses and, in turn, more jobs.

But somehow, jobs are being ignored. The middle-class small businesses owners who create jobs are already out of cash and out of time. ObamaCare creates a trillion dollars in new taxes that business owners have to pay out of their own pockets before they can even think about hiring more employees. And the White House has now proposed another $1.6 trillion in new taxes that will affect those same business owners. But if you’re spending $78,000 and making $50,000, the problem isn’t that your boss isn’t paying you enough. The problem is that you need to stop spending money you don’t have.  That’s the problem Washington has, and it needs to stop today. We have to stop kicking the can down the road. We must put our economy on a long-term path to good health.

Reckless regulations, too, are killing jobs. New regulations are coming from the White House faster than business owners can keep up with them — the website regulations.gov shows nearly 6,000 new regulations posted in just the last three months! Business owners across southern New Mexico tell me about how they’re struggling to stay afloat — many have to lay off workers to make sure the company can survive. Others have already lost their businesses, leaving their entire staff unemployed.

So, the unemployed remain without jobs.  Even those with jobs are afraid of becoming unemployed, or of facing higher taxes. So the economy remains stagnant. And our country slips deeper into debt.

The House of Representatives has already passed several bills to avert the fiscal cliff. The president’s own bipartisan debt commission recommended controlling spending. But we still haven’t seen any leadership from the Senate or the White House: just more spending. And now, they’re asking for trillions in new taxes to cover the bill. But we don’t have a taxing problem, we have a spending problem. This October, the federal government took in $21 billion (13 percent ) more than it did a year ago. Spending increased by twice as much! If you get a 13 percent raise and then spend double that amount, you don’t need another raise. You need to live within your means. Middle class Americans all over the country are tightening their belts and making hard decisions to live within their means. Washington needs to do the same.

I sincerely hope that Congress and the White House can reach an agreement that will both avert the fiscal cliff and solve our debt problems. It’s what America hired us to do. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find the right solution for America. And I call on the President and the Senate to remember how desperately our nation needs jobs.  In 2009, Americans were promised that more spending would bring the unemployment rate below 6% by now. Instead, new taxes and crushing regulations have kept 12 million Americans unemployed. The approach we’ve tried for years isn’t working. It’s time to let Americans get back to work.

Pearce is a member of the House Financial Services Committee.


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