by Jeff Atwater, Florida Chief Financial OfficerThe U.S. Constitution begins “We the People.” We are responsible for electing our representatives, we must hold them accountable for following the Constitution and, when necessary, we must act to protect our country and our children’s opportunity for success.
Our country is at a breaking point. For far too long we have allowed our Congress and our president to ignore the constitutional limitations placed on our federal government. Even worse, we enabled Washington politicians to go on a spending spree and borrowing binge to appease every constituency group, real or fabricated, and ensure their own re-elections.
The spending spree must stop. The bank accounts are long empty. The loan sharks will be coming to call and who will be left to answer? Our children, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren. We are indebting their opportunity for success to pay for our lifestyle. They will have no retirement accounts or college funds, and they will be answering the door when the foreign collection agency comes knocking.
As Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, accountable for the finances of our great state, I believe it is time for “we the people” to act. First, we must hold elected officials and judges accountable for following the Constitution. We cannot stand by and allow our politicians to borrow money we cannot repay from people who despise us, indebting our future generations.
It is time to close the spigot of spending and stop the borrowing. It is time for the federal government to embrace the same standard as the states, the counties, the cities and families all across America…it is time to balance the federal budget.It is time for Congress to send the balanced budget constitutional amendment to the states to be ratified by “we the people.” In an important first step, Congress has agreed to vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution by the end of the year. In fact, the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on this measure the week of Nov. 14.
Ahead of this critical vote, any conversation or debate on a balanced budget amendment should include two core requirements. First, Congress must be required to balance its budget each fiscal year. Second, Congress must not take the easy path of taxing and borrowing to feed a bigger government. This is not responsible budgeting. To ensure that all spending decisions are thoughtful, tax increases or debt ceiling increases must require a super majority vote. Exceptions regarding revenue or debt increases may be necessary for true national emergencies, but this decision should not be taken lightly.
Decisions to restore America’s financial footing will indeed be tough, but we did not send our elected officials to Washington to make easy decisions. The tough decisions left unmade today only become more difficult tomorrow. A balanced budget amendment will require Washington to embrace its limited role of governance and to address its spending addiction before it is too late.
The vote on a balanced budget amendment is pending in Washington. It is time for us to call upon our elected representatives to act in the best interest of our country and pass a balanced budget amendment. It is time for “We the People” to act!
Editor’s Note: Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official and officer of the Florida Cabinet, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending.