Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) debuted at the first Senate Budget Committee hearing of the 118th Congress. Sen. Lee’s appointment to the Budget Committee comes at a time when our federal budget has ballooned to levels not seen since World War II. Of his appointment to the Budget Committee, Sen. Lee expressed his optimism for bipartisan collaboration and deliberating ways to reduce our budget deficits, stabilize our debt, and put our budget on a pathway to balance.
For the first time since World War II, the federal public debt has reached 100% of GDP, meaning the federal government currently owes more than it collects in yearly revenue. That number is projected to double to 200% by 2050, when our net interest will be the single largest budget item, exceeding the size of Social Security and Medicare. For perspective, fifteen years ago the U.S. public debt as a size of our economy was only 35%.
Just last year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report noting the very tangible consequences of our skyrocketing federal debt: “The high and rising federal debt that CBO projects over the next three decades would have serious consequences for the economy and federal budget, including the crowding out of private investment, higher interest costs, and increased risks of a fiscal crisis.”
In his opening remarks, Sen. Lee said, “I want to take a brief moment to say I appreciate having the opportunity to serve on the Budget Committee at a time when our federal budget has never been in a worse state of disrepair.” Sen. Lee continued, “This fiscally irresponsible path that our federal budget is on significantly increases the odds of a debt crisis and the associated economic pain that will be borne by the American public.”
Chairman Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) called the first Budget Committee hearing of the 118th Congress to consider “Climate Related Economic Risks and Their Cost to the Federal budget and the Global Economy.”
During the hearing, Sen. Lee said, “Let’s not fool ourselves and the American public: our ballooning deficits and debt have been driven by and will continue to be driven by runaway, profligate spending by the federal government NOT because of any effects of climate change. Fear has become an all-too-prevalent quality in America’s political discourse, and, specifically, among those on the left who seek to use climate alarmism to justify a government takeover of our economy and a radical, unrealistic, and damaging transition of our energy sector.”
NOTE: On Thursday, February 16, Senator Lee intends to introduce an amendment to the United States Constitution that would require the federal government to balance its budget each year. Information regarding Lee’s “Balanced Budget Amendment” is available HERE.