By Julianne Ortman
What would your family do with $3,500 more this month? Would you pay for college tuition? Buy down your car payments? Repair the roof or replace the hot water heater? Perhaps you would invest in or start your own business?
The U.S. Treasury Department reported that just one month of excessive spending and borrowing in Washington (October 2013) cost each American household $3,500 — that’s in addition to the taxes we pay. That additional debt of $409 billion represents an enormous economic loss for our nation and a significant opportunity lost for each of our families.
Our nation’s $17 trillion debt has become an anchor around the necks of our families and our economy. Washington is borrowing 46 cents of every dollar it spends. We are perilously close to boarding up our nation’s economy, like Detroit. Worse yet, we have so many Americans unemployed, under-employed or no longer even looking for work.
The future for young Americans has been very nearly destroyed by Washington. Elected leaders have been paralyzed by the unsustainable and financially irresponsible promises they’ve made to special interest groups. This is a bi-partisan problem, Republicans are far from blameless.
Americans aged 18-24 face new burdens making it increasingly difficult to succeed: high rates of unemployment, lack of full-time employment opportunities and fewer work hours, the extremely high cost of college, huge student loan debts, and increasing costs of living (especially for housing). These Americans are living with their parents longer, taking longer to graduate from college, and delaying marriage, starting a family, and home-ownership. Now they must buy health insurance coverage they may not need or want.
Make no mistake, President Obama and Senator Franken want to control the nation’s insurance markets, (one-sixth of the national economy) so they can make more promises and give away more government benefits and subsidies (it sure helps to win elections). Behind this new promise is a very insidious premise: that we Americans can no longer be trusted to make our own decisions and manage our finances. That we need the government to manage our lives for us.
Next, our salaries and wages will be paid directly by our employers to the government, and we will be given back only the portion the government doesn’t need to pay for all the promises it has made.
Maybe it would be easier if the government just kept it all to provide a certain quality of life for all Americans. We won’t have to think at all, we American workers, we will just support a government enterprise that takes care of all of our needs: government housing, mass transit, government managed healthcare, and properly-portioned food allowance. We can erase financial risk, poverty and homelessness. We can have complete income equality and complete earnings equality. No one will have to compete, innovate, or create value. We Americans will live and work to support the beneficent government enterprise.
Most Americans know our nation is heading in the wrong direction. Most Americans no longer trust the government. Washington is the problem. Each day our leaders fail to resolve our growing national debt, and fail to dismantle these unsustainable, costly, and encroaching government programs, poses a greater threat to hardworking middle class Americans and our families. Indeed, according to the Business Insider, “the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America,” with fully 61 percent of Americans living paycheck to paycheck.
So how do we turn back?
Our American spirit, the quest for individuality and our ability to dream and achieve are as strong as ever. We will never give up our inheritance of economic liberty and opportunity. As Americans we have claimed as inalienable our right to work hard to build a better life for ourselves and our families.
We only have to look to our history to see that we have tackled unthinkable challenges before, and we can do it again. We colonized America, fought for independence, settled the West, ignited the industrial and technology revolutions, defeated Hitler, and landed on the Moon. We can bring common sense back to Washington.
As Senate Tax Chair in 2011, I made sure Minnesota closed its $5 billion budget deficit without raising even $1 in new taxes – and the economy grew. The same budget principles can be applied in Washington – if we elect principled and courageous leaders who will put the interests of hard-working Minnesotans ahead of Washington insiders and special interests.
I believe in America. I know we can conquer the disillusionment and distrust rampant across our states and communities, and take the serious steps necessary to restore prosperity to our families and our nation.
Let’s accept this challenge and work together to succeed once again.
Minnesota Senator Julianne Ortman has represented Carver County in the Minnesota Senate for the past 12 years and is a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2014.