Shortsighted deal on debt limit sidesteps necessary tough decisions

As published in: Sioux City Journal

By Joni Ernst

What does $57,000 mean to you?

For many Iowans, $57,000 could mean a college degree at a public university in Iowa.

A family of four in Iowa could buy five years' worth of groceries with that same amount of money.

Or, a farmer could use that money to raise an additional 400 pigs, helping our agricultural economy for Iowans across the state.

Instead, $57,000 is every single Iowan's share of the national debt. Rather than using those hard-earned dollars for an education, food, or agricultural needs, Iowans are forced to pay for Washington’s repeated reckless spending habits.

Like so many Iowans I have heard from, I am tired of Washington’s out-of-control spending and addiction to governing from one crisis to the next. So, when a backroom deal to increase the debt limit was negotiated behind closed doors by congressional leaders and the White House, handing Washington a credit card without a limit, I said enough is enough. I voted against this shortsighted deal that sidesteps the tough decisions that the American people elected Congress to make.

It is no easy task, but we need to approach cuts thoughtfully and identify and eliminate areas where the federal government should not be involved and stop fraud, waste and abuse in those areas where it needs to be involved. What I want to see is a budget that balances and one that helps grow our economy. Raising the debt limit fails to address the real problem at hand. I was sent to Washington to work on actual solutions, which is why earlier this year we passed a balanced budget for the first time in over a decade.

Yet, rather than abiding by these guidelines to actually balance our budget, Washington rammed through another faulty debt limit deal that trades one crisis for another by removing the cap on how much more debt Washington can rack up over the next year and a half.

Too often politicians on both sides of the aisle talk about our debt, but fail to do anything about it. Years before he was elected president, then-Sen. Barack Obama said increasing the debt limit was “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic,” even claiming “raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure.” And yet, under President Obama, our nation has racked up over $8 trillion in new debt.

It is time Washington is upfront and honest with the American people about what is at stake when it comes to our skyrocketing debt. In 2010, when our national debt was $13.5 trillion, then-Admiral Michael Mullen stated that the “most significant threat to our national security is our debt.”

Today, our nation is more than $18.4 trillion in debt. Having served in the military for over 20 years, this is a threat I take incredibly seriously. Iowans sent me to Congress with a clear mandate: to cut the irresponsible spending problem in Washington. It is not just our children’s future we are spending away, but this mounting national debt acts as a wet blanket on our already stagnant economy and threatens our national security.

As a soldier and mother, I will not stand silently by and allow more than $57,000 to be passed on to each of my daughters and grandchildren. Washington needs to cut the pork and work toward real solutions that hardworking Iowans and folks across this country deserve.