Our broken tax system also plays a role by limiting our ability to collect revenues. Our current tax rates create a disincentive for companies to do business here in the United States, which then leads to fewer high-paying jobs for American workers, and encourage businesses to keep their profits overseas. Lowering tax rates would incentivize companies to repatriate that money and invest it back into our economy. Earlier this year, I introduced a proposal in the Senate to lower the tax rate in each bracket. It is but one step we can take to overhaul the tax code that will provide direct, immediate relief to hardworking families, jolt our economy and increase federal revenues.
While I do believe tax cuts are an important step in controlling our debt, the biggest driver of our debt is the rapid, unchecked growth of mandatory payments on safety net programs including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. If we continue down our current path, in less than ten years 99 percent of all federal revenue will have to be spent on mandatory payments and interest on our sky-high debt. No amount of cuts to defense and other programs such as crop insurance, education, highways and bridges will have a meaningful effect on debt reduction without our controlling the cost of these mandatory payment programs as well.
Mandatory payments already account for nearly three-fourths of our total federal spending today. This is because Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security have never been properly managed, and Congress does not appropriately oversee them. They run on auto-pilot. Given that they are our largest federal expenditures every year, it is time for Congress to take an active role in managing their funding levels on a regular basis. This does not necessarily mean making cuts – it simply means giving Congress the authority to review them to make them as efficient as possible and to make sure they are available for individuals who need them, both now and in the future.
Surpassing $20 trillion in debt should be a wake-up call to Washington, which for decades has failed to own up to its responsibility to balance the checkbook. I continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to shake up the budget process in Congress and open up the entire budget to congressional review – including mandatory payments. It is the only way to slow down the fiscal train wreck. Simply delaying action and looking the other way is not an option.
Call out: Surpassing $20 trillion in debt should be a wake-up call to Washington, which for decades has failed to own up to its responsibility to balance the checkbook.