Thursday, July 9, 2015

Robert Hurt on Learning from Greece

U.S.Representative Robert Hurt (R-VA-5) reflects on a familiar theme, with fresh news and links:

"Fifth District Virginians and all Americans are very well aware that Washington has been unable to live within its means for many years. This lack of fiscal discipline creates tremendous uncertainty and threatens the integrity of vital programs, our national security, and our economic prosperity. Despite these risks, too many in Washington still think we can continue to put off addressing our national debt and deficit challenges. As we have seen in recent weeks, should we not act, we could find ourselves in the same situation that Greece is experiencing right now— a country suffering through a debt-driven economic meltdown.
Just last week, Greece formally defaulted on its debt, causing turmoil across the nation. During Greece’s economic depression, one out of five businesses has closed. As Greek citizens rushed to protect their hard-earned money, they were restricted from withdrawing more than 60 euros a day and sending money overseas. Moreover, the shutdown of Greece’s banking system has sent its businesses and its citizens into a new realm of uncertainty, and could have a serious, negative effect on our global markets.
Last month, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a non-partisan organization, released its 2015 Long-Term Budget Outlook, which reveals a dismal future for our nation if we continue to spend recklessly. As the report explains, “because debt is already unusually high relative to GDP, further sustained increases could be especially harmful to economic growth.”
It goes without saying that this is an unsustainable path. The situation in Greece should serve as a wake-up call to all of us. Tackling our unfunded liabilities will be difficult, but nowhere nearly as difficult as doing so in the midst of a crisis of our own making. We must make the effort to reform and strengthen our vital programs on our terms rather than have those terms dictated to us by our creditors.
Congress has worked to reform Washington’s reckless spending habits. The budget for the next fiscal year, which was negotiated and adopted jointly by the House and Senate for the first time in six years, includes responsible spending reforms to balance the budget and begin the process of paying down our debt. Pursuant to that budget, we in the House have adopted six of the twelve annual appropriation bills, each of which holds down discretionary spending on various federal agencies.
But now the President and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid are threatening to hijack the budgetary process to drive spending higher. Now is not the time to spend money we do not have, especially when we continue to see the very real consequences of the failure to adopt responsible fiscal policies in Greece. We will never be able to reform the real drivers of our debt—unsustainable entitlement programs— if we cannot even hold our discretionary spending in check.
Congress must continue to work toward common-sense spending reforms to reverse the adverse effects deficit spending before it is too late. We cannot stand idly by and leave our children and grandchildren to cope with a Greece-like fiscal catastrophe.
If you need any additional information or if we may be of assistance to you, please visit my website at or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office:(434) 395-0120. "