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Both Republicans and Democrats have had sole control of both chambers of Congress and the White House at different times over the past decade and made it clear that excessive spending is a bi-partisan problem. That is why, on behalf of hundreds of thousands of FreedomWorks members nationwide, I urge you to cosponsor what should be a bi-partisan solution: H.J. Res. 97, the Spending Limit Amendment (SLA) proposed by Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Mike Pence (R-IN), and John Campbell (R-CA).
The SLA would create a constitutional amendment to cap federal spending at the post-World War II average of 20% of the economy. For historical perspective, federal spending was less than 10 percent of GDP as recently as 1940. In the past ten years, annual federal spending has almost doubled, going from $1.8 trillion to $3.52 trillion. In that time span, the government’s expenditures grew from around 18 percent as a share of the economy to almost 25 percent. This massive increase has lead to the highest levels of spending as a share of the economy since World War II.
Over the last ten years, federal debt—which is ultimately taxpayer debt—has also more than doubled, increased from $5.6 trillion to $12.5 trillion. That increase is greater than the entire accumulation of federal debt incurred from our first president, George Washington, through our 42nd president, Bill Clinton. The annual federal budget has gone from a $236 billion surplus in 2000 to a $1.4 trillion deficit in 2009.
Left unattended, these enormous levels of borrowing and spending will continue to grow. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that by 2036 three entitlement programs will consume all federal revenue—and that is without the expensive new health care entitlement Congress is considering adding. It also predicts that by 2038 the amount of debt held by the public will reach 200 percent of the total economy. This path is clearly unsustainable. It will necessitate an increase in burdensome taxes, slowing economic growth, and will inevitably lead to a lower standard of living for Americans than would otherwise be achievable.
Adding the Spending Limit Amendment (SLA) to the United States Constitution would guarantee that federal spending cannot continue to grow the size government at unsustainable rates. The SLA would limit federal spending to 20 percent of the economy. This, of course, should not be seen as the level spending should be, but rather the most it could possibly be. This proposal allows the limit to be waived if a declaration of war is in effect or with a two-thirds vote of Congress. The Amendment would not set forth a particular plan for how the government should appropriate spending. It would instead establish a Constitutional restraint on the spending that present and future lawmakers pass.
Amending the United States Constitution is one of the most serious responsibilities of our system of self-government. It is intentionally and rightfully difficult to do. But our forefathers understood that—in order to protect the prosperity of the union and the liberties of its people—there would be situations which necessitated the amendment process. The displayed inability of both parties to restrain spending on their own, which has lead to the mortgaging of our nation’s future, is one such situation. The recent debt troubles in Greece should serve as a clear enough reason for this course of action. I urge you to take action now and support this amendment. Our children and grandchildren are depending on you.
President and CEO