30 July 2011

Sen. Johnson's reply

Dear Kilgore,

Thank you for taking the time to write me regarding the federal debt ceiling. The debt ceiling limits the amount of debt the federal government can incur. The United States recently reached its borrowing limit, although Treasury Department measures have pushed back the final deadline to August 2, 2011.

Our nation's fiscal situation is dire. This year alone, Washington will add $1.5 trillion to our nation's debt, which currently totals $14.3 trillion. This mountain of debt threatens the hopes and dreams of future generations. It is immoral. It has to stop. I am willing to work with anyone in Congress who is serious about addressing the number one problem facing our nation.

Unfortunately, neither the Administration nor Democrats in the Senate have offered any serious budget proposal. President Obama's budget for FY2012 would increase our already massive federal debt by $13 trillion over the next decade. This budget was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 0-97, which was a stunning repudiation of President Obama's leadership on this issue.

The Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, has not passed a budget in more than two years. This is irresponsible and puts our nation in fiscal peril. Until the President and Senate Democrats get serious, it will be very difficult to pass legislation that begins to put us on the path of fiscal responsibility.

Without a credible plan to restrain spending and grow our economy, the Administration has instead sought to force Congress into increasing the debt ceiling for the eleventh time in the last decade. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner recently admitted that the Administration has no contingency plan if the Congress does not vote to increase the debt ceiling to allow for more federal borrowing.

On May 25th, I wrote a letter signed by 22 of my Republican colleagues that urged the President to develop a back-up plan in case Congress does not vote to raise the debt ceiling. Businesses and families across America have contingency plans, and the federal government should have one too.

On July 15th, the House of Representatives introduced the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act (CCB), which was passed four days later and sent to the Senate. I believe CCB offers real solutions to our fiscal problems. This act would cut spending for next fiscal year, put into place hard spending caps that will put us on a path to a balanced budget, and introduce a Balanced Budget Amendment to send to the States to ratify. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats tabled CCB before it had a chance to be debated and voted on.

I agree that we need a balanced approach which includes spending controls and increased revenue. But we need to increase revenue the old fashioned way, by growing our economy. The President and the Democrats want to increase taxes, but how many jobs will those taxes create? The answer is that more than likely, it will destroy jobs. Any tax increase will do far more to harm our economy than it will to help. The number one component of the solution to our fiscal crisis is economic growth.

We are bankrupting our nation. Every morning I wake up and ask myself one question: "what can I do to stop it?" I hope that the Administration and my colleagues in the Congress will come together to seriously tackle our fiscal crisis before the Treasury Department runs out of options. However, I will not vote to increase the debt ceiling unless we adopt strong measures to rein in federal spending and balance our budget.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your concerns with me. I apologize for any delay you have experienced in receiving this reply. Since I took office in January, I've received more than 200,000 pieces of correspondence. My staff and I are working hard to respond in a timely way.

Please feel free to contact me in the future with anything important to you or your family. It is an honor to serve you and the good people of Wisconsin.


Ron Johnson
United States Senator

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