WASHINGTON – As the Congressional Budget Office reports a record $1.5 trillion U.S. deficit for fiscal year 2011, U.S. Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) are introducing legislation to force Congress to dramatically cut spending over 10 years.
“Washington continues to borrow and spend, and despite the pleas of the American people, there is no end in sight,” said Corker, who spent the fall delivering a sobering presentation about America’s fiscal situation to more than 43 audiences in Tennessee.
“As we approach our debt limit of $14.29 trillion and more and more Americans - Republicans, Democrats and Independents – call on Washington to get spending under control and reduce our deficit, I see no better time to change course. What Senator McCaskill and I are offering is a legislative straightjacket, a way of forcing Congress to dramatically cut spending over 10 years. The beauty of the CAP Act is that it imposes fiscal discipline and smaller government, while incentivizing lawmakers to pass policies that promote economic growth.”
“At a time when many families have been forced to tighten their pocketbooks, Congress must also learn to do the same. This bill isn’t just about cutting back this year or next year; it’s about instilling permanent discipline to keep spending at a responsible level,” McCaskill said.
The Commitment to American Prosperity Act, the “CAP Act,” would:
(1) Put in place a 10-year glide path to cap all spending – discretionary and mandatory – to a declining percentage of the country’s gross domestic product, eventually bringing spending down from the current level, 24.7 percent of GDP, to the 40-year historical level of 20.6 percent, and
(2) If Congress fails to meet the annual cap, authorize the Office of Management and Budget to make evenly distributed, simultaneous cuts throughout the federal budget to bring spending down to the pre-determined level. Only a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress could override the binding cap, and
(3) For the first time, eliminate the deceptive “off-budget” distinction for Social Security – providing a complete and accurate assessment of all federal spending.
“Cutting trillions of dollars from the federal budget in the coming years won’t be easy or painless; it will require backbone and discipline on the part of policy makers and shared sacrifice for the country. I believe Americans will be willing to make short-term sacrifices for the long-term good of our country and demand commensurate actions from their elected officials,” continued Corker.
The Corker-McCaskill CAP Act is cosponsored by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), and John McCain (R-Ariz.).
In 2009 the federal government spent $1.4 trillion more than it took in, borrowing nearly 40 cents of every dollar. The gap between spending and revenue is almost four times the historic average.
Even when the U.S. reaches historic revenue levels, we are still projected to be spending nearly six percent more of our gross domestic product than we take in, and the gap will continue to widen.
By 2035, on our current trajectory, U.S. debt will reach 185 percent of GDP. If this occurs, interest payments on our national debt will reach nearly nine percent of GDP – as much as we currently spend on national defense, education, roads, and all government agencies combined.