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Secretary Geithner, spending is not a problem of the past

Unless we reverse course from the Obama Administration’s endless borrowing and spending policies, economic collapse is a certainty.

If our entitlement programs are not reformed, they will go broke and break their promises to millions of seniors, disabled and needy Americans. If the government never stops spending more than it takes in, it will go bankrupt. And, if liberals are successful in passing massive tax increases to continue their spending spree, millions more jobs will be destroyed, companies will ship new investments overseas, and our economy will be crippled for years to come.

None of these outcomes are desirable and all of them are preventable.

Yet, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s address at the Harvard Club, just like many statements and speeches from other members of the administration that have preceded it, displayed willful ignorance of these facts. Just as President Obama has done on numerous occasions, Geithner is trying to solve a real problem with new rhetorical spin while advocating for more of the same policies that caused the problem in the first place.

After spending months warning that a financial catastrophe would occur if the debt limit is not increased, the Treasury Secretary has adopted another talking point. Geithner’s new line is that the debt limit “relates only to commitments we have made in the past,” as if the Obama Administration played no role in reaching it and has no obligation to prevent it from happening again.

The Obama Administration forfeits its credibility on fiscal matters by resisting responsibility for the bills it has incurred for the bailouts, the failed stimulus bill, onerous financial regulations, and ObamaCare. Blaming the past for today’s problems is not a plan to solve them, it’s an excuse not to.

Spending is the biggest threat we confront today. The government currently borrows 40 cents of every dollar it spends and will run a deficit of $1.6 trillion for fiscal year 2012.

The $14 trillion debt was not created overnight, but has risen dramatically on President Obama’s watch. The Obama Administration has contributed more than $3.6 trillion to it in the three short years Obama has been president.

As Obama’s Treasury Secretary, Geithner has asked Congress to raise the debt limit three times and has never supported a plan to pay off that debt.
In fact, Geithner called for continued expansion of government spending and more taxes in his remarks. Instead advocating for any reforms to government health care and retirement programs, he said the government must only “reduce the rate of growth in spending.”

Secretary Geithner should use his limited time to help force deep, structural reforms to the way the government spends money rather than asking to put more money on a new credit card.

All Senate Republicans support passage of a balanced budget amendment. Every state except for Vermont is required to balance its books, and the federal government should, too. Geithner should be one of the top supporters of the balanced budget amendment; it would mean he’d never have to ask Congress for a debt ceiling increase again.

Since Democrats haven’t bothered to offer a single serious proposal to balance our budget, Geithner should also examine the numerous budget proposals that Republicans have offered. In just the last few months, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul released a plan to balance the budget in five years. Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey has authored a budget to balance it in nine years. House Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio and I have promoted the Spending Reduction Act that would trim $2.5 trillion over the next ten years from the budget. And, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has written the “Path to Prosperity” to save our entitlement programs.

The ideas are out there, they’re just not coming from President Obama’s party. Democrats have not passed a budget in more than two years and are stunningly non-committal when it comes to any ideas to reduce government spending. It seems as if their logic is that if they never support any of these ideas, they will never have to cut spending.

By refusing to participate in these discussions, they are precipitating disaster. Without spending cuts and real entitlement reform the glaring economic reality of gaping deficits will eventually force federal benefits to be severely rationed or taxes to be significantly increased.

Giving the Obama Administration a new no-strings-attached credit card to continue their endless borrow and spend policies only brings doomsday closer. And, that’s not a problem of the past. It’s the most serious and overwhelming threat to our future today.

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