National debt hits $15 trillion…And counting

This week, our national debt hit $15 trillion. The urgency of our debt crisis demands that Congress pass true spending reform that will enforce fiscal discipline. This can only be accomplished with a balanced budget amendment.

If we want to give job creators certainty for the future, and encourage them to expand and grow, we must rein in out-of-control spending.

The House considered a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, which requires a 2/3 vote in each chamber of Congress to pass. 

With opposition from the tax-and-spend left, the amendment did not pass.

This Balanced Budget Amendment closely mirrors the same one that passed the House in 1995 — with broad bipartisan support — and failed by only one vote in the Senate. Since then, our debt has nearly quadrupled.

My colleagues across the aisle who voted against this amendment are either burying their heads in the sand or trying to misrepresent this effort to score political points. But ignoring our debt crisis won’t make it go away.

In fact, a group of moderate Democrats openly supported this amendment and called opposition “unfortunate” because almost two-thirds of Americans support this measure. One Democratic member said, “This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. We should come together and take steps to get the country back on the appropriate path.” 

Under President Obama, this country has seen an explosion of Washington spending and unmatched trillion-dollar deficits. Since President Obama took office, our debt has increased by $3.7 trillion. The Democratic-controlled Senate has not passed a budget in more than 900 days.
Setting our federal budget is one of the most basic functions of government. Washington has been spending without any limits in place, and our President has failed to offer any leadership to address the debt crisis, and in fact has led us in the opposite direction.

But we did not get here over night. Under both Republican and Democratic Administrations, Washington has spent too much. It is too tempting for politicians to spend now, while passing the debt on to future generations.

A child born in 2011 carries $47,093 of our national debt. If we continue on this path, future generations will be left with an America where uncertainty and debt crowd out opportunity for prosperity and economic progress.

President Ronald Reagan said it well: "Only a constitutional amendment will do the job. We’ve tried the carrot, and it failed. With the stick of a Balanced Budget Amendment, we can stop government squandering, overtaxing ways, and save our economy."

I supported the Balanced Budget Amendment in 1995 and I supported it again in 2011. I will continue to fight for policies that pay down our debt and stop out-of-control spending.

Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) represents Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District.

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