On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office released its budget and economic outlook for the years 2016 to 2026. In the report, the CBO projects that the current budget deficit will increase for the first time since 2009 to $544 billion, increasing the national debt to 76% of gross domestic product, or around $30 trillion. Based on current law, projected future deficits would push debt held by the public up to 86% of GDP by 2026, a little more than twice the fifty year average.
The report provided an opportunity for Senator David Perdue, who serves on the Senate Budget Committee, to take to the Senate floor to talk about the growing debt, a topic he has addressed before.
In his speech, Senator Perdue cited the rising cost of healthcare spending that could total more than $4.1 trillion in 2026, more than the federal government spends on all programs today. In addition, the cost of servicing the debt if interest rates rise to their 50 year average of 5.5% would be nearly $1 trillion, or twice the amount spent on the military each year.
Elected officials have railed against profligate government spending for decades. In his speech, Senator Perdue said he had not heard anyone say “we cannot afford it” during his first year in the Senate. Then he offered some ideas for tackling the problem:
We can solve our national debt crisis, but Washington’s business as usual approach must change and lawmakers must start saying ‘we cannot afford it.’
Solving the debt crises starts with totally reinventing the failed budget process, which has only worked 4 times in the past 40 years.
We have to also reduce the size of our federal bureaucracy and start with redundant agencies.
Washington already has 256 government programs running on autopilot, costing taxpayers $310 billion a year. And, there are hundreds of billions of dollars in duplicative programs and more opportunities to reduce waste.
It goes without saying, we need to get our economy growing again, and we can do this by changing our archaic tax laws, by eliminating unnecessary regulations stifling our free enterprise system, and by finally unleashing the full potential of our energy resources here in America—responsibly.
But, Mr. President, we will not solve this debt crisis until we save Social Security and Medicare, and address our spiraling health care costs.
Senator Perdue has said he will use his second year in the Senate to begin offering possible solutions to America’s challenges. Thursday’s speech may be the first volley in that effort. He wrapped up by saying, “We must do this right now for our future, for our children, and for our children’s children.”