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Why Tackling the Debt Can't Wait Until Next Year

July 6, 2010 - 6:00pm

Next year when I start presenting some very difficult choices to the country, I hope some of these folks who are hollering about deficits step up. Because I'm calling their bluff.
President Obama, June 27, 2010

For a devoted Chicago White Sox fan, President Obama has sure sounded like more of a Cubs fan lately when talking about Americas debt crisis its all about next year. In doing so, he has encapsulated the fundamental problem with Washington and our political system today its always about next year. Or after the election. Or when the time is right.

This is precisely how once-manageable problems grow into full-blown crises because Washington has too many politicians who wont tackle the hard issues today. Instead, they postpone them so that others have to deal with them at a future date. Those other people, in turn, repeat the vicious cycle, which has brought us to this critical juncture in American history with regard to our debt.

Today, the Congressional Budget Office says the federal budget is on an unsustainable path. European countries are scolding and mocking us about our out-of-control spending. It may be a laughing matter for those who resent Americas strength or, worse, for our enemies who wish for a full-blown American debt crisis as much as they do about another Sept. 11. But a $13 trillion debt is no laughing matter not for me and not for my childrens generation.

If ever there was a crisis requiring presidential leadership acting with the fierce urgency of now, tackling our debt is it. Instead of waiting until next year, President Obama and Congress should do some very specific things today to reduce the debt, restore fiscal discipline in Washington and create an environment of certainty that encourages job creation.

This includes freezing non-defense and non-veteran discretionary spending at pre-Obama levels; mandating that all discretionary spending programs end every 10 years after the U.S. Census unless Congress specifically votes to continue them; banning earmarks; instituting a civilian hiring freeze across the federal government; cutting the budgets of Congress and the White House by 10 percent; giving the president the line-item veto pen; and ending the TARP bailout and stimulus programs, while using those savings to pay down the debt.

My children Amanda, 10; Daniella, 8; Anthony, 5; and Dominic, 2 are too young to understand what Washington politicians are doing to them and their generation. But I do, and its what motivates me each day in my effort to get to Washington to do something about it.

The decisions we make today and in the coming years will determine what kind of country they live in. Every day we postpone acting decisively on the debt, we pile even more on the backs of millions of young Americans. Every day we fail to act brings us closer to a day of reckoning when my childrens generation face bleak job prospects, because high debt forces Washington to raise taxes, or makes business-lending for growth more expensive, or puts inflationary pressures on the dollar. This is unacceptable. Every child deserves to inherit a stronger, more secure and more prosperous America from their parents.

The problem with Washington is that it is always reactive problems tend to fester and get kicked down the road. Then, once they reach a critical point, the powers-that-be tell us we have to swallow bitter pills like job-crippling taxes (particularly the value-added tax) to pay for their largesse and recklessness.

We need leaders in Washington who are proactive who tackle immediate problems like putting people back to work, but also have the courage and convictions to lead with the next generation in mind, not the next election.

Former Speaker of the Florida House Marco Rubio is the leading Rupublican candidate for U.S. Senate.

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