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Steve Knight: Making decisions now for our future

Posted: March 7, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 7, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Congress missed another opportunity to curb the outrageous spending that is taking place in Washington. The tense political climate prevented a prolonged but necessary debate on the debt ceiling.

With an election looming and the memories of the last government shutdown still lingering in people’s minds, this battle may have been lost, but our resolve to keep fighting must remain.

Some Republicans were in a quandary this time. They worried that if they continued to fight against this bill, it could have led to another government shutdown.

Not willing to take that risk and be blamed for the shutdown again, the Republican leadership felt compelled to vote along with Democrats to continue to spend money that we don’t have.

I realize the importance of working with others to get the job done because compromise is sometimes a necessary component of politics. But I also feel that representing people is an honor.

If a budget does not cover its obligations, then it should not be approved.

In our own lives, if we keep borrowing and spending like the government is doing, we would never get out of debt.

Right now, the United States is borrowing almost 30 cents for every dollar it spends. Can you imagine how disastrous it would be running your own household that way?

As citizens, we develop a budget and must live within our means. Conservatives on Capitol Hill are the ones trying to adhere to the same policy as most Americans when voting on budget matters.

It is President Obama who is driving up this debt and not engaging with Republicans on how to solve this long-term spending problem.

With every program the president creates, the money must come from somewhere – health and social programs are not “free.”

They are expensive, and without a proper budget to run them, the government has to borrow, sticking taxpayers with the bill.

No one wants to cut spending or programs, raise taxes and other unpleasant options to fund new programs.

Continuing to borrow money at the present rate, however, does not make sense.

If Congress does not act quickly, the interest on these loans can skyrocket and we will be in an even bigger mess.

Here in California, the governor has finally acknowledged that the state faces a massive $355 billion wall of state debt and unfunded liabilities. The current plan would pay down budgetary debt by $11 billion and spend another $10 billion on debt service for General Obligation bonds over a two-year period.

We must recognize that paying down these debts means $21 billion won’t be available for education programs, public safety, and tax relief or to rebuild California’s aging roads, schools, parks, court buildings, and local jails.

It’s the same problem at the federal level — make the tough decisions now or pay even more later.

We need to demand that our elected officials stop increasing the debt and work together to find solutions.

Reaching the debt ceiling does not mean that the government will default on the outstanding government debt. In fact, the U.S. Constitution forbids defaulting on the debt (14th Amendment, Sec. 2), so the government is not allowed to default even if it wants to.

You might ask: Then how do we solve this crisis? We elect representatives who do not want to pass this debt on to our children and grandchildren and demand they pass a balanced budget.

Just like every American family that has to cut some spending at certain times, our government, and especially our president, need to do the same.

State Sen. Steve Knight, R-Antelope Valley, represents the 21st Senate District in the California Legislature, which includes communities throughout the Antelope, Santa Clarita and Victor valleys.



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