A national debt approaching $28 trillion, annual budget deficits of over $1 trillion, and a debt to GDP ratio approaching 100%... The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that federal revenues will total 16.4%, while spending will account for 23.4%, of GDP by 2030, with the national debt rising to over $31 trillion (pre-Covid projections). By 2050, the CBO estimates the debt to GDP ratio will be 180%, with spending at 30.4% of GDP, compared to just 18.6% for revenues. New pandemic spending threatens to make the outlook even worse. This suggests that economic growth will slow, and the United States, with increasing possibilities of default, will pay higher interest rates to foreign lenders, and American household incomes will fall.
All these cautionary projections from the CBO, and what do we get from our elected officials, with both houses of Congress and the White House controlled by Democrats? A Covid-19 relief bill (American Rescue Plan Act) that contains very little relief for the American people, but plenty of generous handouts to mismanaged blue states and liberal priorities… The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives reintroducing earmarks, inviting representatives to fight for access to funds for local pet projects and special interests… Bill after bill loaded with pork, driving up budget deficits and the national debt.
President Biden said, “we can’t wait,” while Democrats and liberal activists are pressing the urgency of getting the American Rescue Plan Act passed now. Yet according to the CBO, over 1/3 of the spending wouldn’t occur until at least next year. If $700 billion is not urgent enough to be spent this year, especially with all of the money remaining to be spent from previous relief bills, why not remove it from the package and save it for more critical needs? Think of the urgency to get schools reopened… this bill contains $129 billion in funding for schools. Well spent, right? However, according to the CBO, only 5% of those funds will be used in 2021. How does that offer relief to those parents, teachers, and students suffering now?
On top of funds allotted for future years, much of the funding has nothing to do with pandemic relief. Republicans continue to decry this legislation, stating repeatedly that only 9% of the appropriations go to public health expenditures. After months of railing against the Trump administration’s failures on funding adequate testing, and a supposedly inept vaccine rollout, only 1% of Biden’s bill goes to vaccination and testing. Of the nearly $2 trillion appropriated in the bill, $350 billion is earmarked to bail out state and local governments that were terribly mismanaged fiscally before Covid-19 ever entered the picture. That’s more than ten times the funds allocated for a national vaccine distribution program. Meanwhile $140 million is dedicated to a railway connecting Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco neighborhood to Silicon Valley. What pandemic relief impact value does that railway carry? Republicans offered an amendment to reroute that money to mental health grants to provide services for children negatively impacted by the virus. The Democrats killed the amendment. Do we need further evidence that this bill is nothing more than a liberal socialist wish list?
Moderate democrats and even former democratic Treasury Secretary, Lawrence Summers, have called for less pork and more targeted relief spending. A group of Republican senators attempted to negotiate with Biden, offering a more targeted package 100% devoted to pandemic relief. It wasn’t big enough. Mr. President, that’s because most of your bill does not have any impact on Americans struggling with pandemic related issues.
This is a perfect example of why we need balanced budget and responsible spending amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Members of Congress, for decades, have proven that they cannot, or will not, restrict their spending to that which is necessary for the government to fulfill its responsibilities as described by the Constitution, “…to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
Republicans in Congress should immediately introduce a balanced budget constitutional amendment requiring Congress to submit a balanced budget to the president each year. That means the federal government cannot spend more than it receives in revenue. A provision for national emergency, such as global pandemic, requiring 2/3 of both houses and the president to override the requirement should be included. Additionally, as federal spending has hovered between 35% and 40% of GDP annually for the past decade, due to economic and pandemic crises, and projected non-crisis spending is expected to reach 30% of GDP in coming decades, the GOP should also introduce a responsible spending amendment, limiting federal expenditures to 18% of GDP.
Now is not the time to be timid. We are already saddling future generations of Americans with a crippling national debt, one that is forecast to worsen over the next 30 years. The irresponsible stewardship of the nation by our elected officials has led to a future in which the United States will be paying higher interest rates to foreign powers, requiring either massive tax increases or draconian spending cuts, or both. American household incomes will continue to fall, the dollar will have less purchasing power, and there will be a constant threat of fiscal crisis. China, and not the United States, will lead the world economy. We are in danger of leaving our children and grandchildren a nation with less opportunities than we had and greater threats than we endured, one in which they will work to pay our debts, reaping little benefit from that which they sow.