Here it is July and while Nebraskans are thinking about summer fun, family vacations, and record floods, in Washington, they're thinking about record deficits. I had planned to visit American troops in Afghanistan, including the many Nebraskans serving there, as well as U.S. military leaders, over the 4th of July break.
I still hope to travel to these conflict areas at a later date. For now, the Senate has cancelled its July 4th weeklong break to address the national debt. I applaud that because this is a very serious issue that requires our full attention. The reward will be great because reducing the debt will improve the sluggish economy and get people back to work.
There is no question that Congress must reduce spending, reduce the debt and stop running deficits each year. Washington is no stranger to deficits having balanced the budget only 3 times in the past 40 years.
At the current rate, it is estimated that the federal debt limit, or the debt ceiling, will be reached on August 2nd. Once the limit is reached, the U.S. can no longer borrow money by selling treasury bonds to meet its commitments.
Some people think Congress should just let this happen. Others think failure to raise the debt ceiling will result in a serious economic backlash that could permanently undermine U.S. credit around the world. They say it could push the economy back into recession.
What is clear is that Congress cannot simply continue raising the ceiling again and again. A broader solution is necessary -- one that forces us to spend within our means, to prioritize and make only strategic investments.
Congress is going to use the week following Independence Day to continue deliberating the best way to address these serious challenges. It is my hope that my colleagues will join me in emphasizing spending cuts throughout these discussions.
The key to controlling the deficit is the leadership on both sides needs to get partisan politics out of the picture and make the hard decisions to cut government spending. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, calls the debt the most significant threat to our national security because it affects the ability for our country to resource our military. This should be reason enough to force serious action on this issue.
Nebraskans know a thing or two about working together to live within their means. We are required to balance the state budget each year. As Governor, I worked closely with the Unicameral and balanced the budget 8 years in a row.
I will continue to work with Republicans, Democrats, Independents and everyone else committed to reducing the national debt.
Washington owes it to the American people to put the partisan games aside, keep moving forward, and continue to work responsibly to reduce government spending.