Why Government Spending Matters

February 23, 2012

I came to Washington, D.C. almost 6 years ago and like most of us, fell in love with the constant political debate and discussions that permeate this city. Happy hour became a full on discourse on the issues of the day and everyone brought their passions to the table. I discovered that people from opposite sides of the political spectrum, not surprisingly, have radically different opinions on what functions of government are important.

But there is one issue that disproportionately affects everyone. It doesn’t matter if your favorite president was Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan or even William Howard Taft (really? William Taft?)

That issue is our government’s out of control spending and the resulting debt. When that realization hit me, I understood how crucial fiscal policy is….to pretty much everything.

Our out of control spending is hurting our national defense. Care about our national defense and security? Spending and debt impact that issue as well. Adm. Mike Mullen (retired), former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has repeatedly argued that the national debt is the top threat to our nation’s security.  If we continue to spend at the rate that we are currently, we will lose the resources needed to keep our troops in the best position possible.  To further muddle the security waters, large parts of our debt are owed to other countries, including China. Maybe you’ve heard, but our interests don’t always align with theirs.

Our out of control spending is undermining America’s great generosity.

Malaria is a great example of this type of investment. Hundreds of thousands of children under 5 in Africa are living, playing and growing because of the huge investments the United States have made in malaria and global health over the past decade. Foreign assistance as a whole accounts for roughly 1% of our budget. But if we continue to spend the way we are, if we bury our heads in the sand and allow our fiscal situation to decline even further, we won’t be able to afford that 1% much longer.

Our out of control spending is endangering our future prospects. Entitlements have been a hot topic of discussion over the past few months. Our runaway budget directly impacts these programs as well. Every day 10,000 baby boomers become eligible to enroll in Medicare and over the next decade 15 million more people will be on Medicare. Social Security is also due for huge increases in cost because of more and more eligible recipients. If we don’t solve our spending problems, there will be no money left for these programs.

Obviously, whether you are a Democrat or Republican, issues that are important to you are being affected by the simple math of our growing spending and debt. That’s why the game of chicken that Washington insiders continue to play is absolutely maddening to me. We stand to lose too much if we chose to ignore our current circumstances.

So Washington, step up, if you really want to make a difference over the next 40 years, implement the common-sense solutions that this country needs to strengthen America’s ability to be great. We can be the generation that solves a historic fiscal crisis, let’s meet that challenge.

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