Nation’s economic woes can be fixed

18,000. That’s the number of jobs that were created across the country last month. The month before?  25,000. In the last two months, the largest, most industrious and productive economy in the world created only 43,000 jobs.  That is not enough to keep up with a growing workforce, and now the unemployment rate is at 9.2 percent.  Things are moving in the wrong direction.

When you look at the condition of the economy, it is not surprising that nearly every economic indicator has gotten worse since President Obama’s inauguration.  We have 2.1 million more Americans are unemployed; gas prices are 97 percent higher; the national debt per person is $11,300 more; 13 million more Americans are on food stamps.  

Shortly after entering office the President sold his $814 billion stimulus plan to the American people by promising that this new, unaffordable government spending plan would create jobs and keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent.  We can now clearly see how wrong he was.  Instead, all it did was add to the debt.

The President is now on track to add more to the national debt than all presidents between George Washington and George W. Bush combined.  That is a pace that no President has even come close to matching.  So far, all of this new debt has forced him to raise the debt ceiling three times, and now he wants Congress to do it again without any strings attached.

Why?  I believe it is so he can keep spending your money without having to worry about how the new debt will weight down the economy.  But we cannot afford to do that.  Instead, we need to lighten the load by cutting spending and start the process of paying off our debt.  Under current conditions, this is the only way to ensure strong economic growth in the long run.

If we fail to increase the debt ceiling above $14.3 trillion we will eventually default on our debt.  Nobody wants that.  But we must recognize that the limited government we know – the one that protects our freedoms and does little else – is beginning to unravel.  The President wants to preserve policies that will cause our government to grow uncontrollably.  That is why any agreement to increase the debt limit must stop this from happening.

Fortunately, there is a solution.  It’s called a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, and I support it with all 46 of my Republican colleagues.  If it passes, it will significantly limit the size and future growth of the government by limiting spending to 18 percent of the economy and requiring a two-third majority of Congress for any tax increase.  This is what our country needs.

To preserve our limited government, we need to cut spending in the short term, cap it in the medium term, and pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution for the long term.  Because this is the only way to protect our liberties and permanently prevent future debt crises, any deal to increase the debt limit will have to include these three things to earn my support.  

The current moment is truly unique to our nation’s history.  In my memory, there has never been a time in Washington where both parties are actively talking about spending cuts.  Let’s take advantage of this to limit the size of government and encourage long term economic growth.  Now is the time to pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.  


U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, the senior U.S. Senator from Oklahoma, is a leading fiscal conservative.