03.01.2013 0

Mars to Earth: Cut Your Spending

Our National DebtBy U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan — What do robotic squirrels, Martian food and zombies have to do with the impending sequester?  Everything.

The government spent $325,000 last year constructing a robot squirrel to replicate the interaction between rattle snakes and the small-sized rodent.  Meanwhile, NASA spent $1 million taste-testing fine cuisine to be served on the planet Mars.  And last, but certainly not least, the Department of Homeland Security spent taxpayer dollars preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

Even science fiction author Gene Rodenberry would have a hard time topping this list of creative (yet shameful) spending by Washington bureaucrats.  We can fund these wasteful projects, but we can’t trim 2.4 percent from an already bloated federal budget?  What hope is there that we will ever get the exploding federal debt under control if we can’t extract 2.4 cents of waste from every dollar?

In the four years since Congress last passed a budget, the government has spent $11.2 trillion and added $5.5 trillion in new debt.  This reckless pattern of borrowing and spending has placed the United States on the short list of seven industrialized countries whose debt exceeds its total economic output.  The last time America’s debt topped the size of its overall economy was in 1947 due to the costs incurred fighting World War II.  Today, there is no excuse for spending more than we’re taking in. Frankly, it’s a recipe for disaster.

And yet some in Congress still defend out-of-control spending as American families suffer under stagnant paychecks, high unemployment and soaring gas prices.  They refuse to accept that Washington has a spending problem, and instead call for higher taxes to fund even more government spending.

What they ignore is the fact that the federal government will collect an unprecedented $2.7 trillion in revenues this year from the American taxpayer.  Simply put, we do not have a revenue problem.

It would be wrong, however, to blame our current predicament on one party or one administration.  Both Republicans and Democrats have contributed to the nation’s financial crisis.  It will take both parties working together to dig us out of this hole.  That’s why we must quit the partisan gridlock, stop the blame game and get to work on behalf of the American people.

The enormity of our fiscal challenge may have been best expressed by Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who warned “the biggest threat we have to our national security is our debt.”  In more apocalyptic terms, Erskine Bowles, co-chair of the president’s debt commission, said “the debt is like a cancer… it is going to destroy the country from within.”

Families and businesses across America are making the tough choices every day to make ends meet.  It is long past time for Washington to wake up and do the same.

The American people deserve nothing less.

Vern Buchanan, a Republican, represents Florida’s 16th Congressional District.

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