Kirk says no to debt limit increase without "serious reforms"
Here's U.S. Senator Mark Kirk's response to an Illinois constituent query on the debt limit vote coming up:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the debt limit and the need to address our rising national debt. I am greatly concerned about the fiscal crisis facing our country and its impact on our future prosperity. We need significant anti-spending reforms and increasing the debt limit without such reforms sends the wrong message to our creditors, the financial markets and the American people.
In recent years, our country has witnessed large budget deficits and an exploding national debt. Since 2008, the national debt has increased by over $4.3 trillion and now stands at $14.3 trillion. We are borrowing $4 billion every day and this year we will pay $225 billion in interest on our debt. For the first time since Pearl Harbor, Standard & Poor's, a top credit ratings agency, issued a "negative outlook" on U.S. debt. This is a stark warning for our future. Without meaningful deficit reduction measures, American families could face higher borrowing costs and a weaker dollar. This would hurt economic recovery and limit job creation.
On May 16, 2011, the federal government reached its statutory debt limit of $14.294 trillion. However, the U.S. Treasury has several tools available to ensure we continue to meet our obligations. In a recent letter to Congress, Treasury Secretary Geithner warned that these additional measures would last until August 2, 2011 and expressed the urgent need to address our increasing national debt.
President Obama has asked Congress to raise the debt limit without delay and some have asked for a "clean" debt limit increase that doesn't include meaningful deficit reduction measures. This would be a mistake. We should say no to a debt limit increase unless such an increase includes serious reforms that would make any future additions to our debt increasingly impossible. Dealing with the debt now will ease financial market concerns, keep borrowing costs down and build a stronger foundation for economic recovery.
In April, Republicans and Democrats came together at the 11th hour to avert a government shutdown by agreeing to a budget for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011 that cut spending by $38 billion. This bipartisanship is needed again in order to tackle our national debt. I have advocated for 15 economic reforms to be attached to any debt limit increase. These include a cap on total federal spending, a permanent end to earmarks and a Balanced Budget Amendment to the United States Constitution. We must look at these proposals and others and bring the best ideas together for a bipartisan solution with meaningful deficit reduction measures.
Without addressing the underlying cause of our rising national debt, Congress will be forced to increase the debt limit again and again. The current rate of debt accumulation is unsustainable and jeopardizes our economic future. We will need shared sacrifice across government to reduce this spending, and no one program should be singled out. Rest assured, I will continue to work on legislation to cut spending, balance the budget and put us on a path to future prosperity.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. To stay informed on important issues, I encourage you to visit my website at http://kirk.senate.gov and my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SenatorKirk.
Very truly yours,