Sen. Tom Coburn: Balanced approach offers best solution
Many Oklahomans are asking whether we will go over the so-called fiscal cliff at the end of the month when taxes will go up for everyone and automatic spending cuts will go into effect.
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The fact is, the nation already went over a fiscal cliff more than two years ago when the size of the national debt reached 90 percent of the size of our economy. Today, our debt-to-GDP ratio is more than 120 percent if you count all debt — federal, state and local. The debt load is the reason why we haven't had a real recovery. The economy is struggling to grow faster than the rate of inflation; the unemployment rate is close to 8 percent.
With the fiscal cliff already behind us, we're being held aloft by the momentum of our past success. The question is whether we're going to have a hard or soft landing.
I've long argued for dealing honestly and aggressively with the true scope of our challenges. That's why I released a plan last year called “Back in Black” that saves $9 trillion over 10 years and gives us a balanced budget within a decade.
Even though the president's Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction commission (on which I served) offered less in savings than I preferred ($4 trillion), I still supported it as a down payment. Unfortunately, President Obama abandoned the recommendations of his own commission.
Obama claims to want a balanced approach yet is now focused on raising tax rates. If the president succeeds in raising rates on everyone making more than $250,000, he'll raise $68 billion next year, which is less than 7 percent of this year's $1.1 trillion deficit. When we're borrowing $3.6 billion a day this is enough to keep the government running for less than three weeks. In other words, the president's so-called balanced approach is based on 93 percent borrowing and 7 percent tax rate increases.
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