Families in New York know that to responsibly manage a budget, they have to spend within their means. For too long, Washington has forgotten this simple idea by allowing record deficits to become a way of life. As our debt burden grows, America becomes more and more beholden to foreign nations like China while becoming less able to meet our obligations to seniors, veterans, the Armed Forces and programs that keep our nation competitive in the 21st Century.
At the same time, it will take serious, wide-ranging action to put America’s fiscal house in order. In August 2011, I supported a compromise deal, known as the Budget Control Act, to extend the nation’s borrowing limit because, for the first time, the increase was made in conjunction with spending cuts. Although this compromise was far from perfect, it averted a government default that would have rippled across the economy and harmed every American. Mortgage and credit card interest rates would have increased, local job creators would have faced higher costs in obtaining a loan, the full faith and credit of the United States would have been damaged, and seniors, the disabled and veterans reliant on federal benefits may have seen a delay in their checks.
There are things we can do right now to reduce the deficit without hurting programs American families and businesses depend on. I have long advocated for the implementation of GAO’s reports from 2011-2013 on government waste and duplication, which identified at least $100 billion in savings that can be found every year by simply enacting common-sense reforms such as combining government offices that serve the same function. I also support allowing Medicare to negotiate their drug prices, like the VA already does, and implementing the preventative care provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
Thankfully some progress is being made, as the Congressional Budget Office recently announced that deficits will finally drop well below $1 trillion and continue to fall through 2015, but clearly we have work ahead. My ideas are not the only ones that will help reduce the deficit, and it is important that Congress work across the aisle craft a serious and sustained plan that can put us back on track towards fiscal health.