Addressing our national debt

Published 8:30 am Saturday, August 24, 2013

Consider the following:

As of this month, the national debt is more than $16.7 trillion. That means each citizen’s approximate share of the national debt is currently $53,000. In five short years, the debt is projected to climb to over $20 trillion.

As of November 2012, the U.S. debt per person was 35 percent higher than that of Greece. The U.S. is expected to add three times more debt than the Eurozone over the next five years.

As of June 2013, China held nearly $1.3 trillion in U.S. debt, nearly 23 percent of all foreign-held debt.

We cannot sustain this path. Washington has an obligation to live within its means, just like hardworking American families do every day. Congress must make it a priority to rein in federal spending and restore America to fiscal prosperity. I want to share with you some of my key principles in addressing the national debt and the solutions I am supporting to get spending under control.

Stop wasteful spending. All across America, families and businesses must live within their means. The federal government should too. Wasteful spending happens throughout the federal government, from lavish conferences to the overprinting of government documents. This type of spending must stop because American taxpayers deserve better. Responsible government must be transparent and accountable, and that means a full accounting of how the government spends its money. I have introduced, cosponsored and supported legislation, like H.R. 284, H.R. 283, and H.R. 292, among others, to introduce accountability of members of Congress into the budget and spending process, and make smart cuts and reforms that will help Americans gain economic security.

Replace the sequester with smart cuts and reforms. The sequester has costly implications, including devastating impacts on our national defense and federal civilian workers. The need for cost-saving measures is very real, but savings should not come at the expense of tens of thousands of jobs or the security of our nation. I have been a vocal opponent of sequestration for over 18 months, in addition to supporting legislation (H.R. 5652 and H.R. 6684) that will enact commonsense spending cuts to replace sequestration.

Pay our bills. We can – and must – make paying the national debt our top priority. Allowing the U.S. to default on its debts would jeopardize confidence in the U.S. government in the global market, and pose risk to our economic recovery and prosperity. Any proposal to lift the debt ceiling must include a strong plan to control government spending. I have cosponsored the Full Faith and Credit Act (H.R. 807), which ensures that the U.S. government does not default on its debt by requiring the Treasury to prioritize payments on the public debt over any other payments, in the event the debt ceiling is not raised. The Full Faith and Credit Act will reassure creditors that the U.S. is serious about making significant spending cuts.

Balance the budget. A Balanced Budget Amendment would be a game changer and I have long been a supporter of such an amendment to the Constitution. This year, I also supported the Require a PLAN Act (H.R. 444) that would require the President to submit a supplemental budget showing when and how the budget will balance.

I believe in the simple truth that we should not spend what we do not have, and we must make it a priority to return our nation to a firm fiscal footing. As public servants, we have a lot of work to do to bring down our national debt and reduce deficit spending. I encourage you to follow my work on federal spending issues in one of three simple ways: 1) visit my website at, 2) sign up for my email newsletter at and check the “budget and government spending” box, or 3) follow me on Facebook at

U.S.  REP. RANDY FORBES, R-Va., represents Western Tidewater in the U.S. House of Representatives. His email address is