Editor’s Note: Reps. J. Luis Correa, Stephanie Murphy, Tom O’Halleran, and Anthony Brindisi are the leaders of the Blue Dog Coalition, an official caucus in the US House of Representatives comprised of 27 Democrats. The views expressed in this commentary belong to the authors. View more opinion at CNN.
President Donald Trump’s State of the Union failed to mention one potential looming crisis: our nation’s ever-growing and unprecedented level of debt. In fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently released a stark economic projection for our nation: America is continuing down a dangerous fiscal path. Our growing debt poses a threat to the US economy and the quality of life of every American – not to mention our national security and our ability to respond to unexpected challenges.
Today, our national debt has reached a troubling level at nearly $22 trillion – and it’s projected to grow continuously unless we do something about it. Split between every man, woman and child, each person in this country holds a share of about $67,000 of the debt.
The interest on our debt is now the fastest growing part of the federal budget, over education, defense, health care or Social Security. Interest, which is expected to hit $383 billion in 2019, will balloon to $928 billion in 2029, according to the CBO.
Next year, interest costs will exceed the amount of all federal spending on our children. And, in 2025, our interest payments will exceed the cost of our defense budget. Before 2050, we’ll likely spend more on interest payments than any other government program or department, according to Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
We will soon spend more on our past than we will investing in our future, our children and our grandchildren. As our debt and deficits grow, so do our interest payments – forcing out investments on infrastructure and other key areas that move our country forward.
Because the Republican Party has become completely irresponsible, it is more necessary than ever that the Democratic Party embrace fiscal responsibility. During the Barack Obama administration, Republicans spent eight years sounding the alarm on our nation’s fiscal state. But that didn’t seem to matter when Republicans passed a reckless tax bill in 2017 that the CBO said would add about $1.9 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years, factoring in interest. Under Trump, the national debt has increased by more than $2 trillion since January 2017 – and the American people have noticed.
Eighty percent of respondents in a poll conducted by Politico and Harvard said it is “extremely important” for the new Congress to take steps to substantially reduce our budget deficit.
Ignoring this problem would not only be irresponsible, it would be immoral. Now is the time for Democrats to uphold our promise to the American people and stand up for responsible governance and fiscal responsibility. Our children and grandchildren are counting on us to ensure that our future will not be burdened by reckless decisions of the past.
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Almost every House Democrat and some House Republicans have taken the first important step by passing and reinstating the Pay-As-You-Go rules to ensure the House offsets any new spending by either increasing revenue or reducing it elsewhere. This is certainly a good first step, but we need to do more if we’re going to truly solve this problem and invest in future generations.
Now, in the era of divided government, it’s on Republicans and Democrats in Congress to build on this momentum and work together to find balanced solutions that will rein in our nation’s unprecedented debt and ever-growing deficits.