Every business, every family and every person in America eventually has to balance a budget. I'm a small business owner—I have owned and operated my business for 41 years, and I balance my budget every day. The government should be no different.
In fact, not only should a balanced budget be a high priority policy goal, it should be at the top of the list. Until we balance our budget, we don't know the true fiscal condition of our country, or our company or our family. Just like a business that is overleveraged or a family that has overborrowed, deficit spending can obscure the real picture. But eventually the truth comes out. Once the numbers line up, you get an exact view of your fiscal condition, and only then can you begin to see what you can do for your customers, or in the government's case how deep your assistance can go for the public, how strong your military can be or how much private sector involvement you will need.
We have gone far too long without knowing our country's financial condition. In the last four years we have had trillion dollar deficits. In 2011, our nation's credit rating was downgraded. And this year, our publicly held debt is on track to exceed 76 percent of GDP in 2013. Yet we still spend money we don't have, pushing the country towards a debt-driven financial crisis. If the federal government didn't have the ability to print money, we'd have negative net worth and be in a weak financial position.
As I have said on the floor of the House of Representatives, no business could operate like this for long, and no government should operate like this for any longer.
A budget is a blue print, a road map, a plan. Our nation's budget doesn't need to have balance as its end goal—it needs to be our starting point. It's the only way to guarantee that the public debt will not outgrow the economy, which would crowd out private investment, raise interest rates and increase inflation. By applying the same principles that families and businesses use every day, our country's best financial days will be ahead of us.
About Roger Williams Republican Representative From Texas
Matthew Mitchell Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University
Stan Veuger Research Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute
Scott Lilly Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress
Ryan Schoenike Executive Director of the Can Kicks Back
Isabel Sawhill Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution