Throughout our history, America has been a place where if you work hard and play by the rules, you can go as far as your God-given talents will take you. Those sacrifices help pave the way for your children and grandchildren to go even further.
This is the American Dream as we know it. It’s not an abstract goal, but an achievable way of life that is ours to protect and pass on to future generations.
Many Americans today are deeply worried that all this is changing for good – but not in a good way. This concern stems from the belief that the American Dream is slipping away and, with it, the chance to give our children and grandchildren a shot at an even better life.
Especially over the last five years, we have been told that a bigger and more powerful federal government is the way to fix this. But it has not. Instead, it has left us with a $17 trillion national debt and 20 million people out of work. It has left us with taxes that are too high and regulations that are too complicated. And it has left us with a government too broken to function and families that are falling apart because our government undermines the values of hard work, discipline, honesty and self-control.
We should never accept this as the new normal. We can reverse the insecurity, the lack of opportunity and the anxiety about the future. We can restore the American Dream.
Of course, these worries won’t disappear overnight, with one speech or with one budget. But every day is filled with new opportunities to take some steps in the right direction.
Unfortunately, the House-Senate budget deal announced this week fails to take any meaningful steps to achieve a government with less debt and an economy with more good paying jobs. Not achieving these goals means it will continue to be harder for more Americans to achieve the American Dream.
This budget continues Washington’s irresponsible budgeting decisions by spending more money than the government takes in and placing additional financial burdens on everyday Americans. These burdens primarily come in the form of higher taxes disguised as fee increases, particularly on air travelers. Although user fees must sometimes be reevaluated to help pay for the rising costs of providing a government service, this budget deal’s fee increases are simply designed to generate more revenues for government and to pay for unrelated increased spending on government programs.
In the short run, this budget also cancels earlier spending reductions that came about through the so-called sequester of 2011 in exchange for future promises of other spending reductions many years from now. In other words, we have a government that’s $17 trillion in debt, which had to borrow an additional $680 billion this year to fund its annual deficit, yet this budget deal actually increases spending by $63 billion over the next two years, supposedly for spending cuts to be named later.
In 2011, I voted against the deal that included sequestration because it involved raising the debt ceiling without any meaningful spending reforms. But I have also been concerned about the deal’s impact on key defense programs – cuts that imperil our security simply because Washington politicians refuse to set priorities and cut out wasteful spending. The American people should not be asked to choose between a strong military and responsible budgets that encourage job creation and reduce debt.
Instead of setting priorities based on the limited role government should be playing in our lives, this budget deal calls for higher spending and more revenue to feed a larger government. This is not a solution; it’s an exacerbation of Washington’s spending problem.
To save the American Dream will require the restoration of a growing number of stable, middle class jobs. It will require a government willing to unlock Americans’ ingenuity and work ethic through reforms to the tax code and regulatory system, the elimination of costly mandates, and encouraging new innovations in our energy industry. It will require equipping our people with the skills needed to do 21st century jobs. And it will require a government with far less debt and a sustainable, deliverable safety net that includes quality-of-life-saving reforms to Social Security and Medicare.
This budget deal fails to address the biggest obstacles that stand between our people and the American Dream. It keeps us on the same road to ruin that Washington has placed us on.
While this is a missed opportunity in the short term, I remain confident that we as a people still possess our faith in God, our country and ourselves to step up and solve the challenges of our time.
Losing the American Dream is not inevitable. We can restore it and keep our nation special. But doing so will require us to make sacrifices and take bold action to preserve what makes us unique. Every generation of Americans before us has done this, and now it’s our turn.