Controlling Spending

President and Congress must work together to cut the debt by $4 trillion

The announcement by the Supercommittee that it had failed to reach agreement on a proposal to reduce the debt by at least $1.2 trillion is a failure of governing, not of money—the debt will be cut by another $1.2 trillion, but it will be done the wrong way, without reforming the mandatory entitlement spending that is 55 percent of the federal budget, growing at three times inflation and bankrupting our country.

The President and Congress should now work together on a pro-growth plan to cut the debt by $4 trillion:  

  • Close tax loopholes
  • Lower tax rates and raise revenues
  • Save Social Security and Medicare so seniors and future generations can rely on them.

The Simpson-Bowles Commission, the Domenici-Rivlin plan, and the Gang of Six proposal all offer bi-partisan blueprints for how to do this.

Our national debt is now more than $15 trillion, and Congress and the president must show we can govern competently by addressing the biggest problem facing our country.

The debt-ceiling debate changed Washington’s behavior from ‘Spend, spend, spend’ to ‘Cut, cut, cut’

In August, Congress passed a bill to raise the debt ceiling and reduce spending dollar-for-dollar with the amount the ceiling is raised.  Finally, Washington is beginning to take some responsibility for years of spending money we don’t have. At a time when the federal government is borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends, this is a welcome change in behavior that I am glad to support.

These spending reductions are an important step—but they are just one step—and no one should underestimate how difficult the next steps will be. These spending cuts do almost nothing to restructure Medicare and Social Security so that seniors can count on them and taxpayers can afford them. The President’s budget projections still double and triple the federal debt. Under the President’s budgets, according to the Congressional Budget Office, in ten years we’ll be spending more in interest on the debt than we now spend on national defense. And, in January, 2013, the first thing the next president will have to do is to ask Congress to increase the debt ceiling.

This problem wasn’t created overnight, and it won’t be solved overnight. This was an opportunity to take an important step in the right direction—toward stopping Washington from spending money it doesn’t have. We should take it, and then get ready to find ways to take the next step and the next step and the next.

Click here to watch the speech I gave on the Senate floor explaining why I voted for this as a first step toward stopping Washington from spending money we don’t have.

A plan for reducing our country's alarming federal debt

Senator Bob Corker has shown real leadership in introducing the Commitment to American Prosperity (CAP) Act, which would make a dramatic cut in spending over the next decade – and I was proud to join as a cosponsor of his legislation. The bill would cap all spending at a declining percentage of the nation’s GDP over 10 years, eventually bringing spending down to 20.6 percent (the historical average) from 24.7 percent (where it is today). This is a serious proposal to curb out-of-control spending and help solve our debt problem.

Senate Republicans Pass Resolutions to Ban Unfunded Mandates, New Entitlement Spending

On November 16, 2010, Senate Republicans approved two resolutions I offered along with a dozen or so senators, including several newly-elected members of the incoming freshman class. 

The first resolution opposes any new unfunded federal mandates on state and local governments. The new health care law is the most vivid example of Washington politicians putting into law their big ideas and sending the bill to state and local taxpayers.  Governor Bredesen has estimated that the health care law alone will cost Tennessee $1.1 billion over five years from 2014 to 2019.

The second resolution states the Senate Republican Conference’s opposition to creating new entitlement programs. Automatic entitlement spending has grown from 31 percent of the total federal budget in 1970 to over 56 percent in 2010.  It is the principal source of the runaway federal debt.  A good first step to get this problem under control is to say that no new entitlement programs will be created in the 112th Congress.

  • Click here to read a Politico article about these two resolutions.

You can read more about my two resolutions in the documents below: