ALAN NUNNELEE: Reid-McConnell deal did nothing about debt control

NUNNELEE

NUNNELEE

Like most small business owners, I have called my banker to request a loan to cover payroll and other expenses. Inevitably, the two questions he wanted answered were: “How will you repay the loan?” and “What will you do to avoid this problem in the future?” On the afternoon of Oct. 16, Congress ended the two week government shutdown with the passage of the Reid-McConnell deal. The agreement borrowed more money and reopened the government but failed to answer either of these questions.

My rule is to only support necessary increases in the debt ceiling if spending cuts and reforms are part of the package. An example of this approach was the bipartisan agreement in 2011 known as the Budget Control Act, which set strict discretionary spending caps for a decade while increasing the debt ceiling. The result has been two straight years of real spending reductions for the first time since World War II. By contrast, the Reid-McConnell deal allowed for an immediate borrowing of an additional quarter trillion dollars with zero reforms.

The debt ceiling is an artificial, self-imposed limit on our nation’s ability to borrow money. Some of our friends on the other side of the aisle suggest we should abolish it entirely. I believe it is important to have such a limit to act as check on spending and encourage reforms. However, families, businesses, and governments hit their real debt ceiling when they borrow more money than they are capable of repaying. America is coming dangerously close to that situation.

Currently, debt is just over 100 percent of GDP. In other words, we have borrowed the equivalent of an entire year of economic output in the United States. This is an incredibly risky position for national security. If we were to face another global threat to freedom requiring a large scale military response, we would be forced to borrow previously unimaginable amounts of money, largely from foreign nations who may not have our best interests at heart. That is why former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, observed that the greatest threat to our national security is debt.

Too much debt also threatens essential government services. After all, every dollar dedicated to paying interest on borrowed money is a dollar that cannot be spent on Medicare or Social Security. In recent years, the effects of government borrowing have been mitigated by low interest rates. Should rates jump to historical averages or higher, we would face a crisis requiring immediate cuts in popular government programs, tax increases, or some combination of both. These events would increase the risk of triggering a prolonged recession.

Debt is also a drag on economic growth. Recent studies have shown countries with debt rising past 90 percent of GDP are consistently outperformed economically by more fiscally responsible nations. Debt is definitely a problem in the long term, but its immediate effects on the economy and job creation should not be overlooked.

Living so far beyond our means is also a moral failing. Forcing future generations to shoulder a burden they had no part in creating is the ultimate taxation without representation. Rather than irresponsibly piling debt onto our kids and grandkids, we should follow the example of the Greatest Generation. They borrowed huge sums of money to win World War II, but once the fight was over, they quickly paid down the war debt. The result was a legacy of freedom, strength, and wealth unlike the world has ever seen. It is our responsibility to pass that legacy on to the next generation.

Putting an end to Washington’s spending and debt addiction will require a level of political courage and leadership that has thus far been lacking from President Obama and the Democrats who control the Senate. They are totally committed to growing government, spending more money, and avoiding the hard choices we all know must be made. Given the balance of power in Washington, I understand why some people on my side of the aisle felt like they had no option but to support the Reid-McConnell agreement. However, the end result was exactly the type of business as usual I was sent here to stop, which is why I voted no.

U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., represents the 1st Congressional District of Mississippi. Contact him at Tupelo District Office, 431 West Main Street, Suite 450, Tupelo, MS 38804 or call (662) 841-8808.

  • barney fife

    A stunning bit of copy-paste by Nunnelee & staff parroting the party line. Good going, there Congressman.

  • 1941641

    Nonelee:

    “Living so far beyond our means is also a moral failing. Forcing future generations to shoulder a burden they had no part in creating is the ultimate taxation without representation. Rather than irresponsibly piling debt onto our kids and grandkids, we should follow the example of the Greatest Generation. They borrowed huge sums of money to win World War II, but once the fight was over, they quickly paid down the war debt. The result was a legacy of freedom, strength, and wealth unlike the world has ever seen. It is our responsibility to pass that legacy on to the next generation.

    Putting an end to Washington’s spending and debt addiction will require a level of political courage and leadership that has thus far been lacking from President Obama and the Democrats who control the Senate.”

    But, Representative Nonelee, the credit limit was raised more than once under your old buddy George Bush and your old idol, Ron Reagan. Did you forget or just thought you wouldn’t mention that part? This time around it was the Reid-McConnell deal. Bi-partisanship at its best. Moreover, the war debt after the Bush-Cheney Iraqi War still hasn’t been paid the last time I checked and Obama has now inherited it. I guess you just don’t get it, Nonelee. You as a Republican representing Mississippi’s First District have failed in your elected duties as a congressman–a “moral failing” of immense proportions! Don’t you owe the people of Mississippi an apology if no one else?

    By the way, Nonelee, you can’t compare the “Greatest Generation” to the “Present Day Generation,” way too many years of foul, muddy, political waters have already passed under that bridge.

  • charlie

    Let’s see, to save some money and pay down the debt why not close Columbus Air Force Base, Kessler Air Force Base, Meridian Naval Air Station, stop all government contracts to the ship yard at Pascagula, cut all federal aid to Mississippi schools, cut all federal aid to Mississippi farmers, police departments, fire departments, rural water associations, and all the rest of the federal money coming to Mississippi, social security, medicare, etc. While your at it lower the minimum wage, I’m sure that you think that its too high. Wake up Mississippi and smell the roses.

  • Thile

    Translation from our cut-n-paste congresscritter: “I’m more beholden to my teahadist handlers, so I voted to sink our nation’s recovery to make them happy. But I REALLY care about the America, so please accept my fatuous platitudes about the America’s future.”

    So, Alan, are you saying those sequestration cuts you voted for in 2011 were a positive for the economy?

  • Guest Person

    Well Alan – let’s talk cuts – tell us what and how you wish to make these cuts. We hear a lot of talk from Republicans about debt and costs but all you really want to do is cut Social Security and Medicare – two programs Americans PAY IN TO! You talk about debts and cuts but you are not telling us just what you would really do.
    Yes we did borrow huge sums of money during WW II and we did pay down the debt – if you remember we had an upper tax rate of at least 70% and no corporate loop holes.
    Yes countries that have debt 90% of GDP have ecconomic issues however our debt is currently 4.5% of GDP down from 10% in 2010. Stop using the terms debt and deficit to met your needs.
    Stop playing to political games and walking the party line – work for the people who sent you to Washington. Bumper sticker talking points will not solve our problems.

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