Weekly Column

Our national debt is out of control and now stands at over $18 trillion. We simply cannot keep spending money we do not have. Nebraskans are known for our strong common-sense values. We understand that it’s irresponsible to spend beyond our means. But as millions of American families are making their own sacrifices to make ends meet, our government has had little incentive to do the same.

Last week, President Obama unveiled a new budget for the next fiscal year. As I examined his $474 billion proposal, I was disappointed to see that it once again does nothing to balance our budget or curtail out-of-control spending. Instead of relieving burdens on families and fostering growth, the president has chosen to rely on tired ideologies and tax increases. This is deeply misguided and will only intensify the problems facing millions of families in Nebraska and across the country.

We as a nation must act responsibly and prepare for future emergencies.  That is why I’m supporting several initiatives in the Senate to curb our nation’s tsunami of debt by instituting policies that will rein in wasteful government spending. One of these proposals is the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. This amendment, which I also backed last Congress, will ensure that future generations enjoy the blessings of prosperity rather than suffocate under the wasteful plundering of our resources. Families in Nebraska balance their budgets every day, and it’s only right that Washington should be held to the same standard. 

Just last week, reports came out showing that buried within the president’s 2016 budget was data revealing a $21.8 billion shortfall stemming from the administration’s student loan program. This is the largest shortfall ever recorded for any government program. Such a significant loss places further strains on our obligations and leaves the American taxpayer to cover the costs. The need for legislation to prevent wasteful mistakes like these from happening is abundantly clear.  That’s why I stepped in to reintroduce the Budget and Accounting Transparency Act – a bill I worked on last Congress to require the government to conduct fair and honest accounting of federal credit programs. This bill is forward thinking and would further ensure that the risks to taxpayers are properly and accurately evaluated in order to prevent shortfalls like these. 

The Congressional Budget Office has long supported using a fair-value accounting system to evaluate government credit programs. To be blunt, we’re kidding ourselves if we only hope for the best without preparing for the worst. The truth of the matter is that these government programs are much more expensive than they need to be.      

In the Senate, I will continue my efforts to incorporate policies that will eliminate waste by making our government smaller and smarter. I will also work with my colleagues to produce a fiscally-responsible budget – one that balances our financial obligations without adding to the debt that will be incurred by our children and grandchildren. We simply can’t continue to kick the can down the road. 

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week. 

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