Debt crisis most pressing issue
February 19, 2013
By U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
Like many, I watched with great interest
President Obama’s recent State of the Union
Address, in which he outlined his priorities.
Fiscal reform and economic growth should top the
list of priorities for the President and
Congress over the next four years.
The debt crisis is the most pressing issue
facing our nation today. In the midst of this
crisis, the President and Congress have the
opportunity to reform our badly broken tax
system, address the federal spending problem and
promote a sustainable economic recovery that
will result in increased jobs.
Over the last four years, our national debt has
increased $6 trillion to $16.5 trillion. This
spending spree must stop.
The President claims the actions taken in the
last two years have nearly solved our fiscal
crisis. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The Congressional Budget Office recently issued
a report stating that the United States is on an
unsustainable fiscal path, pointing to spending
as the cause. Without a course correction,
rising spending will fuel a $9 trillion increase
in the gross debt, further slowing growth and
hurting millions of Americans.
Absent targeted, structural reforms, the Social
Security Disability Insurance program will be
insolvent before the President leaves office.
The Medicare program will be insolvent before
our next President leaves office, and the Social
Security program will be insolvent within a
generation. To date, none of the actions taken
in recent years by Congress and the White House
have had any measureable effect on improving the
solvency of these programs, nor will any of the
new tax increases proposed by the President.
Until we have serious leadership that addresses
this looming insolvency head-on, the future of
these programs remains at risk.
Further, it has been proposed that rather than
replace the upcoming sequestration with
prioritized cuts, we address our burgeoning debt
with yet more tax increases. Excessive taxing
and our massive debt are weakening economic
growth today, resulting in fewer job openings,
smaller paychecks and more dependence on the
federal government. We need a comprehensive
solution to our nation’s fiscal problems that
incorporates discretionary spending reductions,
mandatory program reforms and pro-growth reforms
to our tax code to improve our economy.
The President talked about tax reform, yet his
interpretation of tax reform means finding new
ways to increase taxes on the American people,
rather than comprehensive reform. Tax hikes are
not the answer—they will not grow the economy or
create jobs. We must dramatically simplify our
tax code by eliminating complexity, favoritism
and loopholes, broadening the base and
significantly lowering the rates. True tax
reform would contribute significantly to
reducing our national debt and creating jobs.
There are other actions the President could take
immediately to help spur job creation. Beginning
construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which
has been on hold for several years, would create
20,000 jobs and stimulate the economy by $7
billion. Eliminating excessive regulations like
those included in Dodd-Frank, the new health
care law and those imposed by the Environmental
Protection Agency will promote capital formation
and promote investment in American job growth.
Americans deserve a government committed to free
enterprise and limited government, not more
taxing and spending.
Fiscal reform and economic growth, including
reforming the tax code and curbing spending, are
keys to job creation and increased global
competitiveness, and must be our main focus
during the next four years. Real progress can
only happen if both parties come together to
develop solutions to these serious problems that
affect all Americans. We must find agreement on
these issues where we can. We must use this
opportunity for real reform.
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