Eight years ago, when President Barack Obama was sworn into office, our colleagues in the Republican Party called for fiscal discipline. They said our national debt was reaching a dangerous level, and we were mortgaging our children’s futures.
As Blue Dog Democrats, we agreed with the calls for fiscal discipline to get our debt and deficit under control. In 2010, we worked with our Republican colleagues to restore the bipartisan pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules, to ensure the government does not spend beyond its means. That same year, Congress passed, and President Obama signed into law, the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010, which established a budget enforcement mechanism that requires direct spending and revenue legislation to be deficit neutral.
Today, with a national debt that has reached an unprecedented amount, the Blue Dogs continue to call for fiscal discipline, including bipartisan, credible, revenue-neutral tax reform. However, we are alarmed to see that our Republican colleagues have taken actions that worsen an already dangerous situation.
This year alone, the national debt surpassed $20 trillion for the first time in U.S. history, and we have seen the largest annual budget deficit in four years. Yet, House Republicans just passed a partisan budget that bypasses the PAYGO rules and will add up to $1.5 trillion to the national debt. That budget will serve as a vehicle to pass a tax bill based on the Freedom Caucus-endorsed “Big Six” tax framework, which the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has estimated could cost up to $2.2 trillion, and the Tax Policy Center has estimated would cost $2.4 trillion over the next decade.
With the Republican Party in charge of the White House and both chambers of Congress, we have seen our dire fiscal state worsen. Now is not the time to turn away from those calls for fiscal discipline.
The national debt is not an empty political talking point – it’s a serious threat to the United States economy and our national security.
As a result of the growing debt, Americans will see slower wage growth, higher interest payments, and fewer jobs. An increasing debt will also constrain funding to ensure a strong military, hamper diplomacy, and reduce the resources we need in order to maintain our soft power influence around the world.
The bottom line is that if we want to avoid another financial crisis and put our economy on the path to prosperity, we must not worsen the national debt. Both parties must come together on this and produce a real bipartisan solution for tax reform.
That’s why the Blue Dog Coalition has extended our hand to congressional Republicans to provide reasonable alternatives to their costly proposals.
We’ve endorsed a Balanced Budget Amendment that would prohibit the federal government from spending more than it receives in any given fiscal year, except in the cases of war or recession. We also announced the Blue Dog Vision for Tax Reform, urging congressional Republicans to pursue a bipartisan process for tax reform. Because history proves that, together, we can produce a tax reform bill that is credible, revenue neutral, and puts us on the path to fiscal sustainability.
The American people are not interested in partisanship. They want real solutions that fulfill the promises that were made to them, including addressing the national debt. Now is the time to uphold our pledge to future generations to get our fiscal house in order – and the Blue Dogs stand ready to help.
Reps. Jim Costa, D-Calif., Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, and Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., are co-chairs of the Blue Dog Coalition. This official caucus in the U.S. House comprises 18 Democrats dedicated to fiscally responsible policies, a strong national defense, and bipartisanship to get things done for the American people.
This post originally appeared on Washington Examiner