With our nation on the verge of economic recovery, hardworking Utahns and other Americans are continuing to tighten their belts and cut nonessential spending so that they have the resources to meet their financial obligations.
Just as they have had to make tough choices, taxpayers across the nation made it clear at the ballot box in November that they expect Washington to follow suit and get its fiscal house in order. I agree with them, that is why Sen. John Cornyn and I will introduce a constitutional amendment next week that would force Washington to make the same kinds of tough choices that Utahns and other Americans are making to live within their means.
We must act now to take away the blank check that Washington has been using to spend our nation into bankruptcy. Our nation's debt is hurting our global competitiveness, economic health, and standing in the world.
A quick look at the numbers illustrates what we are facing. Our national debt has passed $14 trillion and is still climbing; with it consuming nearly 67 percent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). And tragically, this number is projected by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to top 90 percent of GDP by the end of the decade.
Unfortunately, Congress has refused to abide by the same fiscal standards that families, businesses, and states do and proves that it cannot solve the problem by itself. In fact, Congress has voted 10 times over the past decade to raise the debt ceiling and has stubbornly refused to reduce budgets with meaningful spending cuts.
Given Congress' unwillingness to listen to the taxpayers and its demonstrated inability to solve this crisis on its own, now is the time to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment. The one we are introducing will: require the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress every year; cap federal spending at 20 percent of GDP; and require a super-majority to raise taxes.
Congress would only be empowered to waive the provisions in the amendment if a declaration of war was in effect, or the U.S. was engaged in a military conflict that posed an imminent and serious threat to national security.
Thus far, our proposed amendment is being co-sponsored by nearly a dozen senators from all across America; and the list is growing. It also has garnered strong endorsements from Americans for Tax Reform and the American Conservative Union.
To get our economy moving again, I believe it is imperative that we get spending under control. If elected officials will not exercise restraint to get our nation out of debt and our economy moving again, it is time to impose restraints on them.
This amendment prevents Washington from over-spending and saddling this and future generations with more and more debt. A constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget is a tremendous stepping stone down the right path to put our nation's fiscal house in order.
Hatch, a Republican, is the senior U.S. senator from Utah.