I believe it is inexcusable to add $500 billion to $1 trillion annually to the debt, saddling us and our children with hundreds of billions of dollars of interest. I will work with like-minded senators who will oppose a budget process that prevents effective debate, amendments, and spending caps. I will look to eliminate ineffective and wasteful programs and to reform entitlements for people under 55 years of age.
Politicians in my party have historically rallied to the banner of a balanced budget. The passion appears to have cooled a bit over the last few years as deficits have nearly reached a trillion dollars under a Republican Administration. But even in past years, the political enthusiasm for fiscal balance has generally not been accompanied by realistic proposals to actually achieve it. We now have more than $21 trillion in national debt. The interest paid last year by American taxpayers on that debt was nearly $300 billion.
The best way to reduce the deficit would come through economic growth. The tax and regulatory policies enacted during 2017 were designed to do just that. Even with high growth, we will have to reduce government spending if we are to reach a balanced budget. I have long favored a Balanced Budget Amendment that would help reduce the federal deficit and help rein in spending. If we are at all serious about balancing the budget, we have to look at where most of the money is spent. Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and other non-discretionary items make up about two-thirds of government spending. Defense spending is also eligible for savings. We must depoliticize the process of defense funding: Our military leaders should be trusted to make the decisions about which weapons programs receive funding, not politicians.
In the past 5 years, we’ve spent more than $41 billion beyond existing spending limits on natural disasters. It’s time for Congress to start planning ahead for natural disasters by including funding for them in the annual budget process, instead of busting our spending limits and adding to our skyrocketing national debt. By including funding for disaster relief in the annual budget, my plan will make sure we live within our means instead of running up the government’s credit card.