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Mullin' It Over Column

Passing Bills Off to the Next Generation

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Washington, July 31, 2019 | comments

When my wife and I took over my family’s small plumbing business shortly after graduating high school, it was over a half a million dollars in debt. We knew this was unsustainable and that we had to make changes to get us back on track. We worked seven days a week, made tough choices to move the business from red to green, and paid back all that we owed.

Unfortunately, our country is in a very different situation than my company was in. Our national debt is over $22 trillion and growing by the day, with no regard for how we will pay it back. The debt is destabilizing our nation’s economy, threatening our security and saddling future generations with a mountain of unpaid bills. We need to get on a sustainable path forward by making reforms to our mandatory spending, holding the line on discretionary spending, and managing the interest building on the debt.

A majority of our federal budget is mandatory spending. This type of spending is exactly how it sounds. Laws state the Treasury must spend however much money it takes to keep the programs running. Entitlement programs, like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and other smaller programs, like unemployment compensation, student loans, and deposit insurance, are all mandatory spending. Today, that makes up 60 percent of the budget. Without reforms to the programs, that number will only continue to grow. If we want to get serious about reducing the national debt, we need to make changes that put us on a sustainable path forward when it comes to mandatory spending.

But it’s not just the skyrocketing costs of the mandatory spending, it’s the discretionary spending that has also gotten out of hand. Discretionary spending is all the other programs that are funded each year through the appropriations bills that Congress passes, which includes defense, transportation, and education. All these together account for about 40 percent of the federal budget.

Recently, the House, Senate and President Trump came to an agreement to lift budget caps and increase discretionary spending by over $300 billion. It is estimated to increase the debt by $2 trillion over the next 10 years. In President Trump’s first four years in office, our national debt will have increased more than in President Obama’s last six years in office. I voted against this bill because it is full of debt and I cannot in good faith support increasing spending on the backs of my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

As a fiscal conservative, I believe that we need to be good stewards of taxpayer money and rein in our spending habits. We cannot afford to keep kicking the can down the road and passing bills off to the next generation.

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