Time to live within our means

Think about this: You and your family live in a modest home; you pay your mortgage and bills on time, and each month you try to save a little something extra for a rainy day. Your income is roughly $48,000 a year, before taxes.

You would be the average household in Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District.

Assume that you managed your finances like the federal government as it did in 2013 when it spent 25 percent, or $680 billion, more than it collected in revenues.

To put this into perspective, that would be like the average household spending their entire income, and then borrowing more than $10,000 to remodel the kitchen. It would not take long to realize living so far beyond one’s means leaves two choices: Balance your budget or file for bankruptcy.

The necessity of living within one’s means makes sense to most of us – we have to do it on a daily basis. However, repeatedly increasing the amount of money the federal government may borrow has become a misguided and stupid way to run our country. Over 30 years and six presidents, D.C. has raised the debt limit 43 times while doing nothing to address the root of the problem.

Today, our debt is growing faster than our economy and to continue down this reckless and insane path is not only unsustainable, it is downright irresponsible. If we do not get our fiscal house back in order immediately, economic stability and opportunity will be devastated for generations to come.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued its most recent Budget and Economic Outlook earlier this month, and projects our national debt will exceed $27 trillion by 2024.

The time to act is now. We cannot afford to delay any longer. Washington is fundamentally broken, and we must stop kicking the can down the road without taking steps to decrease spending and to balance our budget.

Since taking control of the House in January 2011, Republicans have successfully reduced the deficit by $165 billion. We must do more to reduce the deficit further, and eventually begin paying down the debt, instead of piling on hundreds of billions of dollars more each year. We can achieve this goal by eliminating duplicative and wasteful government spending, ensuring that taxes remain low for our nation’s job creators, significantly downsizing the federal government, and eliminating burdensome regulations to provide economic certainty. We need to enact an alternative to Obamacare that actually addresses rising health care costs without eliminating two million jobs. We must reform mandatory spending programs so they remain available and sustainable for future generations.

After all, isn’t that how the average household maintains an efficient and responsible budget? Households in the 10th Congressional District of Pennsylvania do not carry a $300,000 credit card debt – the household equivalent of our $17.3 trillion federal debt. We all know it is dangerous and unsustainable, so let us enact real solutions.

U.S. Rep. Tom Marino is a Lycoming County Republican whose 10th Congressional District includes Mifflin and Juniata counties.