It's plain and simple - you deserve fiscal responsibility from your government. Unfortunately, Washington has failed to live up to this basic tenet. Instead, through inaction and complacency of both political parties, Americans have been saddled with ever increasing federal spending, endless bailouts, and economic uncertainty.
This lack of responsibility was brought into clear focus just a few days ago when the Treasury Department said our government ran a $1.29 trillion deficit last fiscal year. This is the second year in a row the federal deficit has exceeded $1 trillion and is the second largest deficit in American history -- with only last year's record-setting deficit of $1.4 trillion clocking in higher.
Prior to last year, the federal deficit had never exceeded $459 billion -- hardly acceptable even then. But the past two years are the highest spending levels in nearly all of American history except for World War II.
Federal revenues last fiscal year amounted to $2.1 trillion, but federal spending exceeded $3.4 trillion. Anyone who has ever put together a household budget knows the simple truth: you can't spend more than you make without accumulating more debt.
I've talked to thousands of Nebraskans and we agree any deficit is unacceptable. And Republicans aren't beyond blame. From fiscal years 1996-2007, Republicans in charge of Congress managed to average $104 billion deficits each year. But with Democrats at the helm the past four years, our economic situation has gone from dark to dismal. In fact, this year's deficit alone is $45 billion higher than the combined total for the twelve years of Republican control.
Let's put this into context - America's deficit is almost the size of Canada's economy, larger than the economy of Mexico and roughly the same as the economic output of India, a nation with more than a billion people. In fact, more than 94 percent of the world's economies are smaller than our nation's annual deficit. But if that's not troubling enough, the sobering fact is Washington's appetite for spending equals 8.9 percent of the economy.
Debt and deficits will destroy our nation's economic future, and this common sense fact: we cannot continue to spend dollars we don't have.
There is a better way. I am proud to be cosponsoring an amendment requiring Congress to pass a balanced budget -- a simple step millions of American families do every year.
Further, with the Pledge to America, Republicans have offered a clear and positive plan to provide the fiscal discipline we need to jump-start job creation and get our economy moving again. Ensuring we protect our seniors, veterans, and our troops, Republicans will rollback government spending to 2008 levels -- which could save us $100 billion a year -- and freeze current tax levels for at least two years. This would provide certainty to job creators so they can invest in jobs and not fear punishing taxes from Washington.
Americans know the first step towards financial security is to live within their means. It's a value common sense Nebraskans like us live out each and every day. Let's hope Washington learns this simple lesson before it is too late.