Editor's note: The following is an opinion piece from one of Utah's congressional representatives. This article is intended to provide our readers with a better understanding of the positions and decisions of this state representative. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of ksl.com, its management or ownership.
SALT LAKE CITY — What would you do with an extra $50,000 in your pocket?
That's the question I'll be asking Utah families and businesses in the coming weeks as Congress looks to debate the issues of tax and spending reform, entitlements, and the debt ceiling.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the national debt will be a staggering $20 trillion by 2023 if Washington doesn't do something soon to control spending. To better understand what that means, if nothing is done to reduce our projected annual deficits, each household in America will owe more than $173,000 toward paying off that debt.
Since 2011, Republicans in Congress have submitted several plans that would begin reducing the annual deficit immediately and eventually balance the federal budget in five to 10 years. For example, the House GOP budget, more commonly known as the "Ryan Budget," named after its author House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, balances the budget by 2023.
Though it is considered one of the least aggressive at getting to balance, under the House GOP budget, the average share of the national debt owed by each household would land just under $124,000 — a savings of almost $50,000 when compared to current CBO projections.
For most people, $50,000 is a down payment on a house, a college fund, a new car, or a sizeable investment in a small business. Other plans, such as Sen. Toomey's 2012 budget and the Saving the American Dream plan I wrote, would achieve balance faster and save the average household an even greater amount.
Amount Owed Per Household — CBO baseline vs House GOP Budget Balancing the budget by 2023 reduces the amount the average household owes on the national debt by $50,000.
For their part, after refusing to submit even a plan for more than four years, Senate Democrats finally introduced a budget that raised taxes by more than a trillion dollars, ignored the biggest drivers of Washington's spending problem, and balanced the budget in the year never.
That's right. The Senate Democrats plan for the country never balances the budget — ever. It includes both massive tax increases and deficits as far as the eye can see.
No family or business gets to borrow and spend year in and year out without paying off what it owes. Every state in the union is required in some way to balance its budget.
Only Washington gets to ignore its spending problem — and now we know exactly how much it's going to cost you.
I think the voices of Utah families and businesses should be heard so I have begun a project called "Balance in 10/#My50k." I'm asking Utahns and others around the country to tell me what you could do with an extra $50,000 and why you think Congress needs to balance its budget. Those who wish to have their voices heard can submit their answers by visiting lee.senate.gov.
Balancing the budget in ten years is a reasonable, feasible, and important goal. Washington shouldn't continue to steal from future generations by refusing to get its fiscal house in order today.
Sen. Mike Lee represents the state of Utah in the United States Senate, where he is currently serving his first term. He is a member of the Joint Economic Committee. Prior to his time in Congress, Lee was a practicing attorney. For more information about Sen. Lee visit lee.senate.gov.