If you’ve been watching the news lately, you’ve likely heard about the impending “fiscal cliff.” The so-called fiscal cliff is Washington-speak for significant tax increases and automatic spending cuts set to go into effect in 2013 if no other action is taken. As negotiations between Congress and the White House continue, it is clear that we cannot address the fiscal crisis and looming tax hikes without addressing the root of the problem – spending and debt.
Out of control spending and an ever-growing federal government have driven our economy closer and closer to the edge of a much more serious cliff. In the last four years alone, federal spending has increased by 25 percent. Consecutive trillion dollar budget deficits have pushed the national debt past the $16 trillion dollar mark. The national debt is already larger than the entire U.S. economy. The interest payment this year on the national debt is $220 billion. The Congressional Budget Office predicts it will reach $778 billion by 2020.
As the debt grows, so does the share of the crushing burden passed on to the next generation. Today, the share of debt owed by our children and grandchildren is approximately $51,000 each. In 2016, it could be as high as $69,000 if this unfettered spending continues.
The threats of a soaring national debt and continued out of control spending are very real. But it’s not just jobs and economic certainty for families on the line, it’s the very future of America as we know it. Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, even went as far as to say that the national debt is our biggest national security threat.
Averting the fiscal cliff now is critical in paving the way for addressing America’s spending problem going forward. Failure to act on the impending automatic tax increases would have a significant impact on hard-working families in the Sixth District and harm our already struggling economy. A family of four earning $50,000 per year could see their taxes increase nearly $2,200 per year. A single mother making $36,000 per year could see her taxes double. The total tax increase would be more than $4 trillion over the next decade. Tax increases in this economic climate are not the solution. But we can generate increased revenue by serious tax reform that makes tough decisions about eliminating loopholes, deductions and credits and creates a fairer tax code that encourages investment in this economy. We must change the spending culture in Washington. We need a path that leads to balance and fiscal responsibility, not a nation saddled with debt.
This fight is not only about the security of America now, but for tomorrow as well. Generations of Americans have worked hard and fought valiantly to protect our freedoms and build a thriving global economy. We now have the same responsibility to ensure a better, stronger America for future generations.
Bob Goodlatte represents the Sixth District in the U.S. House of Representatives.