Crucial to the American people, as well as to their future financial well-being, is hearing first-hand the differences between President Barak Obama's plans for pulling the nation out of debt and what the Republican faithful insists must happen.
That was the message delivered by U.S. Congressman Doc Hastings on a quick, courtesy stopover at the Daily Sun News office in Sunnyside this past Tuesday.
"Americans need to hear for themselves the trouble we're in," said Hastings (R-Pasco), who along with other members of the GOP is pressing for a public, budget-focused debate between Obama and the eventual Republican challenger prior to this fall's Presidential election.
Bottom line, said Hastings, the country currently has the most debt, in terms of the percentage of the GDP (gross domestic product), than since World War II. At the current rate of spending, he said, both the Congressional Budget Office and the White House's Office of Management and Budget predict the nation's debt level will reach the 100 percent mark of the GDP within 10 years. The level of debt since the late 1960s through 2005 has averaged between 20 and 25 percent of the GDP, but is presently well above 50 percent.
"The President promised that by the end of his first term he would cut the deficit in half," Hastings said. Instead, the 4th District congressman pointed out, Obama's spending policies have left the American people with four years of annual trillion dollar deficits. Prior to Obama taking over the White House, the nation's debt had never reached a trillion dollars.
Hastings explained that in Obama's most recent budget proposal to Congress, he calls for even more spending increases, as well as tax hikes on families and small businesses. Obama's plan, he added, puts the country deeper into debt.
Calling for a change of course, Hastings said the U.S. must quit trying to spend its way to prosperity. The Republican party, he said, wants fiscally responsible policies adopted that start to pay down the nation's debt.
Hastings said last year the House of Representatives passed a budget plan that cut spending by $5.8 trillion. The Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate, however, refused to adopt that budget, nor any budget proposal of its own.
The country, he said, has gone more than a thousand days without an adopted budget plan in place.
Congress, said Hastings, is on the verge of approving a new budget, one crafted by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, which, Hastings said, should easily make its way through the Republican-controlled House.
Unfortunately, he said, it's nearly a given "...that the budget proposal will die in the Senate, the same as last year."
To get the nation back on solid financial footing, Hastings indicated it's paramount that the Republicans win back control of the U.S. Senate in this coming fall's elections. The Democrats currently hold a 53-47 advantage over the Republicans.
Of the 10 Republican Senate seats up for grabs in November, the GOP leadership believes only two are in slight jeopardy of falling to Democrats.
"Both of those races should be pretty tight...we're holding out hope we'll hang on to both of them," said Hastings.
There are 23 Senate seats currently held by Democrats that are up for election this fall. Hastings said it appears that the Republican challengers in two of those races, both in the Midwest, already seem to have a clear advantage.
Winning those two Midwest races, and hanging on to the two Republican seats that may be in slight danger of falling to the Democrats, would bring the number of seats in the Senate held by the GOP up to 49.
That, said Hastings, would leave the Republicans with the task of claiming just two victories in the 21 other races that are now under control of the Democrats. Two such wins would give the GOP a 51-49 majority in the Senate.
In looking ahead to which Republican candidate will be asked to unseat Obama, Hastings said the GOP has three solid figures in Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.
"All three bring something to the table...all three are strong candidates," said Hastings.
He noted that Romney has proven himself as a highly regarded executive. Gingrich, Hastings said, is a visionary who has the experience to lead the nation. And Santorum, he added, has deep conservative roots, with a clear understanding from where he comes.
"I can tell you this, whichever Republican candidate is chosen to represent us, he'll have my full endorsement," Hastings said.