Earlier this month in his State of the Union Address, the President painted a rosy picture of our nation’s economic future, claiming that we have created jobs while cutting deficits. The President seems to believe that we have done enough to reduce our massive spending deficits, but I believe – and most Americans believe – that the future fiscal health of our nation remains one of the most serious problems facing our children and grandchildren.
Last week, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its budget projections for 2016. These projections paint a daunting picture that centers around the fact that, according to their findings, the budget deficit for the upcoming year will increase for the first time since 2009. The CBO’s estimation of a deficit of $544 billion is over $100 billion more than last year. This is another stark reminder of how important it is for us to get our fiscal house in order.
A significant portion of this deficit increase is due to growing mandatory spending programs – namely Medicare, Medicaid – and the ever-increasing taxes and subsidies created by the President’s healthcare law. The CBO estimates that spending increases for these programs will increase by $104 billion, and there is no indication they will slow down in the foreseeable future.
Furthermore, the CBO warned that these increasing deficits mean the federal debt held by the public will increase to nearly $14 trillion – that will be 76 percent of Gross Domestic Product. To put that in perspective, that is the highest it has been since the years immediately following World War II. There is no doubt we must get our fiscal house in order and stop spending money we simply do not have.
There was some good news in the CBO’s report. It forecasts an expanding workforce and job market, which are critical to growing our economy. This is an encouraging indicator, and the Congress must continue to make this one of our top priorities, so that this becomes a reality, not just a prediction.
We also must continue to focus on policies that address the need for more jobs and more growth, including mitigating the harmful impacts of the President’s healthcare law. Our increasing deficits and irresponsible spending must be put to a stop before it is too late. We have taken some positive steps in recent years to cut spending and reform unsustainable government programs, but we must take further action to rein in the programs that represent trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities for future generations because this burden will bankrupt our country if we do not act.
Though there are some troubling findings in this week’s CBO report, it should be seen as a renewed call to promote the policies we need to deliver a brighter future to our children and grandchildren. I am confident the combination of growth and responsible reforms will steer our country away from the dangerous path we are on and place our great nation on a path to opportunity, prosperity, and success for all.
If you need any additional information or if we may be of assistance to you, please visit my website at hurt.house.gov or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.
Robert Hurt represents the Fifth District of Virginia in Congress.