Our national debt (the total amount owed by our federal government to our creditors) has now past $32 trillion, an unprecedented amount both overall and by various other measures such as in relation to our overall economy (debt-to-GDP). As just one consequence of great concern, the annual interest payments on our debt are now the fastest-growing part of our federal budget.
I believe that our federal budget should not be, as it has become, a routine exercise, but instead a document and agenda that comprehensively address our nation’s needs and expenses in a fiscally sustainable way. We have urgent challenges, from climate change to health care and beyond, and we need a full and difficult debate on how best to balance their cost with our ability and commitment to raise and allocate scarce resources.
As part of my own efforts to address this crisis, in early 2023 I worked within my bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus to create a bipartisan deal to both prevent a default on the debt limit and return our federal finances to a sustainable path. The debt limit deal that was signed into law for all parties included elements of our Problem Solvers’ plan, such as stabilization measures to address spending, but they do not address the underlying structural causes of the debt and deficit. We must take a broad look at the sustainability of our nation’s current debt and budget deficit and stay focused on addressing the underlying issues.
There are a number of priorities that we must address, but without a conversation on the debt, payments on the interest will crowd out our ability to address these and currently-unknown priorities. For an overview as well as specific initiatives, I invite you to watch my speech before the full House on our fiscal crisis here (https://youtu.be/QfIgF66dmvg). Please also view my testimony to the U.S. House Budget Committee, on which I previously served, here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XM3lxmsEIH0&t=11s).