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Latham: America’s debt problem should be faced

When someone goes too deeply into debt, the worst thing they can do is ignore the problem and hope for the best. |When someone goes too deeply into debt, the worst thing they can do is ignore the problem and hope for the best. Leaving the creditor’s urgent letters and phone calls unanswered won’t make the debt disappear. Yet that’s what our government is doing right now. Our debt has topped $14 trillion and will continue to grow, but the White House and many in Congress refuse to put forward a serious plan to address it.

Yesterday, Standard & Poor’s sent America a wake-up call by changing its outlook on U.S. Treasury securities from “stable” to “negative.” This is a clear sign that if we don’t rein in our growing mountain of debt, we’re putting at risk all of the critical federal programs that Americans rely on, including Medicare and Social Security. If we don’t make the tough decisions now to get a handle on borrowing and spending, we’ll be denying our children and grandchildren their chance at the American Dream.

In the House of Representatives, I’ve voted in favor of proposals to cut spending and reverse the trend of growing deficits. Just a few months ago, the debate in Congress focused on expanding government and accumulating more debt, but the conversation has turned an important corner. Momentum is building to enact policies that force the government to live within its means.

But simply cutting spending won’t be enough. This crisis requires tough decisions. That’s why the budget approved by House Republicans last week includes fundamental tax reform. A more competitive tax system will move our economy forward, encourage investment and create jobs. Our economy won’t recover until Washington gets serious about fiscal responsibility. By cutting spending and debt, we can give the private sector and American families the certainty they need to grow the economy and create jobs. But it won’t happen unless we start making the tough decisions to put our country on the path to prosperity. Our government simply can’t continue spending money it doesn’t have.

We can’t afford to remain in denial about our country’s debt crisis. Standard & Poor’s warning about U.S. Treasury securities should be a wake-up call for everyone in the country. American families have learned to tighten their belts and do more with less. It’s time for Washington to do the same.

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