By: Bill Johnson
I was elected to represent the people of Eastern and Southeastern Ohio in Congress. For the last eight-plus years, I have worked to protect your freedoms, grow your paychecks and create more job opportunities to improve your quality of life, make America more energy independent, and improve America's national security. One of the biggest threats to those priorities is our ballooning national debt, which recently surpassed $22 trillion -- a number so high it's not even comprehensible.
As Ronald Reagan's chief economic policy adviser recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal, our enormous debt is "the most dangerous domestic problem facing America's federal government."
According to the Congressional Budget Office, our grim fiscal reality could get much worse.
If we don't take action, on our current path, during the next decade, the national debt will rise to nearly $34 trillion, and the share of debt held by the American people will reach 93 percent of GDP -- the highest debt level since World War II.
We simply cannot allow these projections to become reality. We must chart a new course.
Fortunately, one of the committees I serve on is the House Budget Committee, the one committee in the House specifically dedicated to addressing these challenges and putting our nation back on a fiscally sustainable path.
The budget committee is solely responsible for drafting a budget resolution -- for painting the complete picture of our nation's financial situation, and providing Congress with a blueprint for how to allocate Americans' hard-earned tax dollars during the next fiscal year. The budget process is the process that tells us anything about how much we're spending, what we're raising in revenue, and the impact of our deficits and debt on our economy and the American people. Without it, Congress is flying blind. I get that sometimes it's not an easy process, but it's an essential part of the job, one rooted in the Constitution.
During the previous eight years in the Republican-led House, the Republican-led Budget Committee fulfilled our chief responsibility and produced a budget to guide our decisions around expenditures, taxes, interest payments and the debt.
This month, however, it became clear that House Democrats have no intention of upholding that essential obligation when they announced they will not produce a budget.
Amid their own intra-party divisions, House Democrats are in disarray and unable to govern. They have been overwhelmed by a progressive, socialistic agenda that will not only bust the federal budget, but also raise your taxes, eliminate your health coverage, potentially crash our economy and make it more expensive to pay your bills and heat your home.
In the real world, I'm held accountable for my personal budget -- just like you are. In the real world, families are held accountable for their income, expenses and savings -- just like you are. On Main Street in the real world, job creators and business leaders are held accountable for demonstrating fiscal restraint, for making tough choices and for setting priorities -- just like you are.
Congress should not be any different.
When I go to Washington on behalf of my constituents, I'm expected to do my job -- to protect and promote the values and priorities we all share. And, I expect my colleagues, both Republicans and Democrats, to do the same.
It's not enough to simply fund our agencies and programs at arbitrary -- and often politically expedient -- spending levels. It's not enough to let our mandatory spending programs -- Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security -- go on autopilot until they become insolvent and further explode the national debt.
We have real opportunities, and I'd argue the responsibility, to preserve and strengthen these vital programs so that they work better and drive down the debt.
I'm committed to addressing these challenges head on, to use my voice on the House Budget Committee to put forward solutions that improve our financial outlook -- for Americans today and for future generations. But, a failure to budget is simply a failure to govern.