Submitted by Rep. John Bennett
I was chosen by the Oklahoma Legislature as a delegate to represent Oklahoma at a historical Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) Planning Convention from Sept. 11-15 in Phoenix, AZ.
This type of gathering hasn’t happened since 1787. This meeting was called to focus on only one issue: to prepare the rules and guidelines for a future Article V Convention of the States for proposing a federal balanced budget amendment.
Federal spending is out of control. We’re currently spending more than our nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). The federal government is taking in $3.6 trillion a year in revenue on average, but spending $3.9 trillion on average.
Our nation is now in enormous debt. To reach $20 trillion, Congress has borrowed $10.7 trillion from traditional lenders and is beholden to China, Japan, Russia and many other countries for loans that finance the government. In 1990, foreign entities owned 6 percent of the nation’s gross debt. That has climbed to more than 34 percent.
Congress has put our nation in a dangerous position. These countries and others with nefarious intent have enormous political influence over U.S. foreign and trade policy. Think about this; Japan and China, the largest buyers of our debt, have started to drop our debt. When the U.S. government can no longer get foreign countries to back our debt what happens?
Currently, the Federal Reserve Bank is printing money to pay our bills, $3.8 trillion that isn’t backed by real money. Additionally, all our federal trust and pension funds have been looted, and countries not backing our debt will ensure Congress depletes our military retirement funds, civil service, Social Security, Medicare, and Veteran disability funds, to pay for our government.
When the debt reached $10 trillion in 2008, we had to pay $451 billion just in interest. The Federal Reserve gradually cut rates from 4.6 percent to 2.2 percent to keep interest from soaring to $1 trillion a year. Since then, we have borrowed $1.2 trillion a year, paid no principal, doubled the national debt, and we’re back to nearly $451 billion a year in interest – that is half the interest rate.
The Congressional Budget Office has projected that the U.S. will continue to borrow $1 trillion a year until interest chokes the budget. Congress has proposed $9 trillion in deficits over the next decade. That’s not including the money for all the recent natural disasters we’ve had in the U.S. This is unsustainable, and our kids, grandkids and future generations will be unfairly strapped with this enormous debt.
I’m not mincing words when I say we are at an extremely critical financial breaking point. We are on the path to a financial disaster that will rival if not make the Great Depression look minimal. Even though the Obama administration tripled our national debt, this isn’t a Red issue or Blue issue, it’s a Red, White and Blue issue and it needs to be corrected now.
Since Congress has failed to restrict its spending, it is up to the states to act.
Our founding fathers were wise when they gave the states the right to correct Congress when it isn’t looking out for our best interests by putting the Article V option into the U.S. Constitution. Article V provides two methods for proposing amendments to the Constitution. It may be either a resolution adopted by two-thirds of both houses of Congress, or by the states at a convention called for that purpose. Currently, 27 states, including Oklahoma, have signed on to the convention, with seven more needed for the convention to be called.
Nineteen of those states attended the Arizona planning convention. Oklahoma’s delegation consisted of state Sens. Michael Bergstrom, Nathan Dahm and Julie Daniels; Reps. Mark Lepak and myself; as well as former Rep. Gary Banz and attorney Mark Nuttle.
States like Oklahoma are stepping forward to force Congress to change its behavior.
We must do this to protect our future generations from a crippling national debt, and I’m proud to be a part of this process and have a voice for all Oklahomans. I don’t want my kids or grandkids to say, “You were there; why didn’t you do something?”
I assure all Oklahomans that the Oklahoma delegation representing you in Arizona had you and our families’ best interests in mind. We are leading the fight to get Congress to get our fiscal house in order.
Additionally, I am fighting in the state House of Representatives to ensure taxes aren’t raised and our state government operates within its means. We are experiencing the same level of runaway spending at the state level and will wind up like the federal government if we don’t reform.
John Bennett represents Oklahoma House District 2. He can be reached at (405) 557-7315 or John.Bennett@okhouse.gov.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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