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Opinion
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Guest Column
Sen. Rick Scott’s plan to overcome America’s big debt problem | Column
Right now, our country is spending out of control.
President Joe Biden speaks during a visit to the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health on Thursday. This summer, Congress and Joe Biden will face the critical choice of raising or suspending the debt ceiling, writes Sen. Rick Scott.
President Joe Biden speaks during a visit to the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health on Thursday. This summer, Congress and Joe Biden will face the critical choice of raising or suspending the debt ceiling, writes Sen. Rick Scott. [ EVAN VUCCI | AP ]
Published Feb. 13
Updated Feb. 13

Since being elected to represent Florida in the United States Senate, I’ve fought hard to call out wasteful spending and offer solutions to make our government more efficient and accountable to the taxpayers. This should be the foundation of our work and service to our constituents. We can’t forget that every dollar the federal government spends is borrowed from the American people.

Sadly, over the past two years that I’ve been in Washington, I’ve realized that while many politicians make promises to uphold these values, very few put their words into practice. It’s no wonder then that our national debt continues to grow out of control. In 2020 alone the federal government increased its debt by more than $4 trillion. Today, it sits at a massive and unsustainable $27 trillion.

Sen. Rick Scott
Sen. Rick Scott

America is in a debt crisis and we need to start talking about it and taking decisive action to reverse course. That’s why, every time I’m faced with the question of spending taxpayer dollars on government programs, I ask myself some simple, yet important questions.

What is the plan to pay for it? What is the return on investment for American families? Are there other programs already doing the same thing? When was the last time this program was reviewed for its effectiveness? Does the proposal include measure to prevent waste and fraud and ensure accountability? Are there unnecessary regulations making this more expensive than it needs to be?

Asking these questions isn’t a novel idea; it’s the same process I went through every day when I was governor and what most Americans go through when making financial decisions at home or for their businesses. No family would needlessly spend money without a plan. No business can afford to not get a return on their investments. Spending without consequence isn’t how things work in the real world and it’s not how things should work in government.

Congress’ decades of failure to think and act responsibly has led to enormous deficits, insurmountable debt, and out-of-control spending. Right now, our country is spending out of control. And even before the pandemic, when the economy was booming, the federal government was running trillion-dollar annual deficits.

This has to stop. We need real reforms. That’s why I’ve proposed amendments to the U.S Constitution requiring a supermajority vote in each House of Congress to impose or raise any tax or fee and providing line-item veto authority for the president of the United States. I’ve also led the charge to set a “No Budget, No Pay” policy in federal law so that if Congress doesn’t pass a budget on time – its most important Constitutional responsibility – members don’t get paid. It’s simple, if you don’t do your job, you don’t get paid.

With America in such desperate need of leadership to fix our spending and debt problem, you’d think that the first thing President Biden would do is set a plan and work hard to make things right. Well, think again.

Four weeks after Congress spent $900 billion to address the economic impacts of COVID-19, Biden began his presidency with a call for Congress to spend another $1.9 trillion. Despite the fact that we still don’t know how much of the $4.5 trillion stimulus funds already allocated has been spent, Biden and his nominees are advocating for even more deficit spending, including $350 billion in taxpayer money to bail out fiscally irresponsible governors in New York and Illinois.

Biden’s nominee to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, has been a vocal supporter of the Green New Deal. Coming in at a price tag of as much as $93 trillion, this insane proposal is so expensive, radical and devastating to American jobs that even liberal labor unions weren’t willing to support.

This summer, Congress and President Joe Biden will face the critical choice of raising or suspending the debt ceiling. Congress has made a habit of maxing out America’s credit card with no plan to pay off our debts. Failure to reign in deficit spending will inevitably cause high inflation, devastating the purchasing power of all Americans and disproportionately impacting low and fixed income families.

Since the Biden administration doesn’t have a plan to address this crisis, I hope they’ll join me in fighting for fiscal restraint, the adoption of sustainable and responsible debt reduction measures and passage of reforms that produce concrete, enforceable limitations of deficit spending.

Americans understand they can’t spend without consequence. It’s time for government to embrace this same mentality.

Republican Rick Scott represents Florida in the United States Senate and is the former governor. In Florida, this is exclusive to the Tampa Bay Times.