With a debt ceiling fight and bank failures, Congress’ day of reckoning to spend less is now.
Inflation is sky-high, purchasing power is sinking, 60% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and credit card debt is soaring to nearly $1 trillion.
To make matters worse, between the fourth quarter of 2021 to the fourth quarter of 2022, U.S. real GDP grew by just 0.9%, the slowest growth in a “recovery” since at least 2009 amid the Great Recession.
The more the federal budget deficit grows because of excessive government spending, the more the budget is crowded out from funding legislative priorities. In turn, Congress is forced to find ways to pay for interest on the debt, which will soon exceed $1 trillion.
It’s not just the budget that’s getting crowded out; productive activity in the private sector fueled by entrepreneurs is stifled due to too much money chasing too few goods and services at the hands of tyranny imposed by big government.
The underlying culprits to these economic catastrophes are reckless, weaponized government spending, often funding tyranny against Americans, and the Federal Reserve holding a bloated balance sheet. This excess national debt and money printing contributed to the latest closure of Silicon Valley Bank and will have further consequences.
These government failures should be addressed by Congress spending less. This should include reducing federal funds sent to states. Not only do federal funds diminish federalism by making states dependent on the federal government but it also comes with massive red tape.
The U.S. system of federalism provides a unique laboratory of competition to see what works across the states. This is best observed and encouraged by letting states be as independent as possible. Considering that federal deficits are expected to increase by an average of $2 trillion annually over the next decade, states would be wise to prepare for fewer federal funds as Congress’ purse strings will tighten.
According to Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX) in a recent interview, another major way the government drives up spending is by hiding behind so-called mandatory expenditures such as Medicare and Social Security, and discretionary spending, which is funding tyranny through the weaponization of bureaucrats.
“We have to commit to not funding tyranny such as the IRS going after minorities and poor people,” said Congressman Roy. “Why should we fund the FBI labeling Scott Smith, a man who stood up for his daughter being sexually assaulted to her school board, a domestic terrorist? Likewise, military funding should go toward making us a strong defense, not to ensuring that recruits ‘stay woke’ and never say ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am.’”
While it’s politically popular for the government to honor its commitments like Social Security and Medicare for current retirees, mandatory spending is excessive and needs reforms to remain solvent over time. Cutting non-defense discretionary spending–including abolishing Departments of Education and Energy–to pre-Covid levels, would mean saving $3 trillion over the next decade.
But both Republicans and Democrats have to work at this as they’re equally culpable of driving up spending under many administrations. And these expenditure savings need to be closer to $8 trillion to stabilize the debt to output level per the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
In addition to tightening up federal funds sent to states and mandatory expenses, the government should consider adopting a Responsible American Budget, similar to what’s been practiced in Texas, Florida, and Tennessee, that’s helping their economies thrive.
This would require adopting some sort of fiscal rule like a spending cap, but as Congressman Roy emphasized, without passing exceptions that would render the rule irrelevant.
If such a rule based on the maximum growth rate of population growth plus inflation, which represents what the average taxpayer can afford, had been in place, then we would have accrued $500 billion in new debt rather than $19 trillion over the last 20 years.
Returning the federal government to its constitutional role of preserving liberty is key to economic growth.
The surest way to suffocate the productive private sector from innovating and Americans from prospering is to let spending increases continue. This is the biggest threat to the American dream today, which younger generations are already counting dead as they’ve seen such poor economic growth in their lifetimes.
If the future of the nation and opportunities for upcoming generations is important, the government must earn Americans’ trust by spending less, reforming mandatory programs, cutting federal bureaucracy, and promoting other pro-growth policies.
As Congressman Roy shared, “I didn’t inherit a free country to pass down an unfree one. We have to fight.”
Originally posted at The Daily Caller.
Vance Ginn, Ph.D.