During my first month serving Central Washington in Congress, I voted to add a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. This amendment, which would have prevented the federal government from spending more than it takes in each year (except in times of war or national emergency), passed the House of Representatives with the required two-thirds majority in 1995. It failed by a single vote in the Senate.
It is past time for the federal government to stop spending money it doesn't have, reverse course and pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to block the White House and Congress from racking up more debt.
A Constitutional Amendment wouldn't simply cut spending one year at a time - but would provide a permanent solution and accountability - applying to both current and future Administrations and Congresses regardless of political party control.
Americans know that you can't support your family or business for long by spending more than you take in. In fact, even most states - including Washington - must balance their budgets. The federal government, however, has been allowed to recklessly borrow and spend.
In 1995 our national debt was already too high at $4.95 trillion. Today that number has nearly tripled to $14.6 trillion. Under President Obama and Speaker Pelosi, the failed bailouts, stimulus spending and trillion dollar takeover of health care added more than $2.7 trillion to our national debt in two years alone.
The consequences of this unchecked spending are impossible to ignore. On Aug. 5, Standard and Poor's downgraded our credit rating for the first time in history - putting further stress on an economy that is struggling to recover.
The Budget Control Act recently signed into law guarantees a vote in both the House and Senate on a Balanced Budget Amendment this year - a vote otherwise impossible to achieve. Mandating the federal government to balance its budget is long overdue.
It seems like common sense - a government that lives within its means. Yet, many big government proponents are flat out opposed to a Balanced Budget Amendment because they know it will end their spending spree.
This vote is an opportunity that we cannot afford to squander. I have co-sponsored bills to add a Balanced Budget Amendment every year I've been in Congress and I am prepared to do everything I can to see it passed this year so that we don't again fall one vote short and face the same budget crisis in the future.
Let me know what you think about a Balanced Budget Amendment by visiting my website at www.hastings.house.gov and sending me an email.
- U.S. Congressman Doc Hastings (R-Pasco) represents Central
Washington's Fourth Congressional District.