FARGO – With the national deficit now predicted to reach a record $1.5 trillion in 2011, North Dakota’s congressional delegation says Congress can wait no longer to craft solutions for the nation’s fiscal crisis.
The message comes on the heels of a report from the Congressional Budget Office this morning, which details the economic outlook for the country. Read more about that on INFORUM.
North Dakota Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad offered a renewed sense of urgency in the wake of today’s news, calling it “another wake-up call to the nation.”
Conrad is the Senate Budget Committee chairman and he served last year on President Obama’s bipartisan fiscal commission. He’s often referred to as a “deficit hawk.”
“It is the deteriorating long-term outlook that is the biggest threat to the country’s economic security,” Conrad said in a statement today. “The fiscal challenge confronting us is enormous. To solve this problem, it will require real compromise and a great deal of political will. We need everyone at the table. And we need to have both sides, Democrats and Republicans, willing to move off their fixed positions and find common ground.”
Conrad continued, “We can’t continue to put this off. We need to reach an agreement this year. The President’s Fiscal Commission provided a model for a bipartisan way forward. Now it is up to the Administration and members on both sides of the aisle in Congress to come together to finish the job.”
For his part, Republican Sen. John Hoeven said today he’s signing on to GOP-sponsored legislation that proposes a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which he says could be a potential solution to the problem.
“Today’s estimate from the CBO drives home in no uncertain terms just how serious our challenge is,” Hoeven said in a statement. “Getting control of our nation’s spending is a crucial step to getting our country back on a sound financial footing. It will take a strong and focused measure, like the balanced budget amendment we propose today, to reduce our debt and deficit and position us for true economic recovery.”
According to Hoeven’s office:
- The amendment proposal would require each year’s fiscal budget to be balanced beginning four years after passage unless two-thirds of the House and Senate approve deficit spending.
- It doesn’t allow federal spending to exceed 20 percent of the previous year’s gross domestic product or taxes to be raised unless two-thirds of the House and Senate consent.
- It requires the president to submit a balanced budget to Congress.
- The amendment waives the requirement in time of war or military conflict.
“Every family working to stay on budget understands the logic of this amendment – you can’t spend and borrow more than you take in,” Hoeven said. “This amendment represents a sensible approach to applying that very same principle to our nation, and its time has come.”
Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Rick Berg noted federal spending remains a root of the problem.
“Today’s report on our nation’s mounting deficit makes it obvious that the out of control government spending must stop,” Berg said in a statement. “The rhetoric from Washington, D.C. must be supported with tangible, common-sense solutions to reduce federal spending and lower our national debt.”
Berg added, “Our current level of spending is unsustainable, and simply freezing government spending is not a viable option. Congress must re-evaluate its budgetary priorities and provide the American people with confidence that Congress is serious about getting our economy back on track.”
Echoing one of his campaign goals to reduce unnecessary government spending and regulations, Berg has signed on to the REINS Act – legislation that would require Congress to approve every rule with an economic impact of $100 million or more, before such a rule can be enforced.