Late last month, the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released its annual mid-year review of the federal budget. We all knew it would report a record-setting deficit--$1.6 trillion for 2009--but the review further revealed the challenges we will face as a country if the current track of fiscal irresponsibility continues. The report revealed the deficit over the next ten years would be $2 trillion more than previously estimated by OMB.
The expansive and impulsive spending demonstrated by the Obama Administration has led our country into uncharted waters. We now face realities of an economic landscape that will--or at least, should--significantly alter our policymaking decisions for years to come. We are confronted with many issues that require responsible action, yet no one issue can be considered in a vacuum, free from the consequences of fiscal irresponsibility.
Consider that our projected $1.6 trillion federal deficit for 2009 is more than three times that of last year. This leaves us with a cumulative federal debt of more than $11 trillion, and it is rising every day. Imagine if that happened in the state of Nebraska, a state that has always responsibly balanced its budget. If Nebraska had a deficit similar to that of the federal government, our state would be $1.5 billion in the red this year. It would be a statewide crisis, on the front page of every newspaper from Omaha to Scottsbluff. This is how heavily the stimulus, budget, and TARP bailouts have weighed on the American taxpayer.
OMB currently projects the federal deficit to grow to nearly $23 trillion by 2019. This increase in national debt means we must drastically increase our borrowing from countries like China to pay for our own budget shortfalls. A $23 trillion national debt is equal to 76 percent of our nation's yearly economic output. A debt so high would be nothing short of alarming.
The bottom line is we cannot afford to continue the spending spree. Attempting to maintain America's strength in a 21st century world while owing three-fourths of our economic worth to rising powers like China is simply unthinkable. I will do everything I can to prevent that from happening. America's government must learn to tighten its belt and live within its means, just as the American people have done.
As the Senate returns to business in D.C., many will press for health care expansion with a $1 trillion price tag. At a time when health care programs make up 26 percent of government spending, one bill being proposed is actually projected to add $239 billion to the deficit over the next ten years. This is unacceptable. Significant health care reform is needed, but we need to do this right, and responsibly, or we risk unintended consequences the likes of which our country has never seen.