Like most Americans, I feel blessed to call the United States home. I truly believe that the U.S. is the land of opportunity. This has certainly proven to be true for me and my family. I grew up in Texas in a family with limited financial means but lots of love.
Over the last several years, I have become increasingly concerned about the national debt that we continue to run up and the implications of that debt for our future. I decided to assemble a team to research topics related to the debt and began reading everything that I could find on the U.S. budget and our debt. During the course of this research, I had the opportunity to become acquainted with Dave Walker, the immediate former comptroller general of the United States who has tremendous knowledge of our government’s finances.
Dave recently wrote an opinion piece for Newsweek in which he discussed our debt problems and the unwillingness of the President and Congress to deal with these problems. He outlined that, since 1981, our debt has increased from about $1 trillion to over $33 trillion today. Government organizations such as the Government Accounting Office (GAO) and Congressional Budget Office (CBO) have called the current trajectory with which we are running up debt unsustainable. Despite this, neither political party has demonstrated the courage to tell the truth or make the tough choices needed to restore fiscal sanity. Dave pointed out that this inaction threatens our future and he labeled this lack of action as irresponsible, unethical, immoral, and un-American. I agree with this assessment.
He called on Congress and the President to begin addressing our problems by working to avoid a government shutdown, resolving the appropriations bills for next year, and dealing with the President’s supplemental request for the current year. He also made the case that Congress should create a Fiscal Sustainability Commission comprised of a politically diverse group of capable, credible, and non-conflicted individuals to deal with our debt. The commission would work to educate and engage the public, solicit views, and then form a package of budget, spending, and tax reforms that would be guaranteed an up or down vote in Congress. Essentially, this commission would force action that Congress and the administration have shown an unwillingness to take.
Mr. Walker further called for a Constitutional amendment that would limit how much debt as a percentage of the economy the federal government can have absent a formal declaration of war or other extraordinary circumstances. These extraordinary circumstances would require a super-majority vote by Congress. All but one state has a fiscal responsibility provision in their state constitution but the federal government does not. Although Congress has failed to act on such an amendment, he believes that several states, which are fed up with the status quo, will soon take legal action to push Congress forward on this issue.
He challenged the Democratic and Republican parties to put forth candidates, particularly at the presidential level, who will demonstrate a commitment to addressing our serious fiscal problems. He warned that failure to do so would likely result in a third-party option in the presidential race that would comprise a ticket of people who would be committed to working on a bipartisan basis to pursue a common sense, results-oriented agenda on issues of concern to the American people.
Mr. Walker concluded by calling on the major political parties to do their jobs, listen to the majority of the American people, and work to solve the serious problems that our nation faces. I support this common-sense message and call on my fellow citizens to get behind it as well.