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Opinion
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Guest Column
I’m Sen. Rick Scott, and here’s how I’d rein in Washington’s reckless spending | Column
My Federal Debt Emergency Control Act aims to check Washington’s out of control spending with concrete checks and balances that bring down the debt.
The Internal Revenue Service building
The Internal Revenue Service building
Published Jun. 11
Updated Jun. 11

Washington is dysfunctional. It’s filled with career politicians who are just as quick to throw taxpayers under the bus as they are to reach their hand out and ask for a vote. We know none of these “leaders” would treat their own finances the way they treat taxpayer dollars — recklessly spending, driving up debt and giving no thought to the long-term consequences.

On July 31, the current suspension of the federal debt ceiling is set to expire, giving Congress a choice: act responsibly to reduce federal debt through structural reform to spending, or suspend the debt ceiling again — allowing more reckless spending that will cripple our nation with insurmountable debt.

Sen. Rick Scott
Sen. Rick Scott [ ALEX BRANDON | AP ]

Congress can’t keep maxing out America’s credit card with no way to pay it off. It’s time for Washington’s binge-spending to end. It’s time to bring the same accountability to our nation’s capital that families and businesses across Florida show every day. Washington needs a wakeup call and I’ve introduced the Federal Debt Emergency Control Act to start ringing the bell.

America is barreling toward $30 trillion in debt. That’s equal to $233,000 in debt for every American family — a debt crisis caused by decades of wasteful and reckless spending. Now, President Joe Biden is continuing this way of governing by pushing for trillions in wasteful spending, raising the U.S. federal debt by 60% to $39 trillion and the debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio to 117% in 2030. Biden’s budget takes the United States to its highest sustained levels of federal spending since World War II. That’s insane, and there’s no way to pay for it.

Spending beyond our means has consequences. We’re already seeing rising inflation, which devastates our poorest families, like mine growing up. When inflation happened, I saw how hard it was for my parents to make ends meet. When inflation hit and food prices went up, we put less food on the table. No family should have to go through that.

My Federal Debt Emergency Control Act aims to rein in Washington’s out of control spending with concrete checks and balances that bring down the debt and help stop the reckless spending that causes inflation and kills opportunity for families across our state.

The Federal Debt Emergency Control Act would require the declaration of a Federal Debt Emergency anytime the debt exceeds 100% of GDP. Declaring a Federal Debt Emergency would initiate common sense debt reduction measures, including forcing two-thirds of the Senate and House to vote to increase the debt before approving any bill with deficit spending. We can’t let politicians spend without consequence. Washington needs more accountability and my bill would ensure every member of Congress is on the record if they choose to increase America’s debt.

The Federal Debt Emergency Control Act would also make sure that we use unspent stimulus funds before turning to deficit spending. Just like a family, the government pays interest on every loan it takes out. The return for Florida families on that interest expense? Zero. Taking on debt should be a last resort. No family would take out a loan unless absolutely necessary. Neither should the federal government.

Finally, the Federal Debt Emergency Control Act would ensure any bill reducing the debt by at least 5% over ten years is fast-tracked through the legislative process so we can get our debt paid down more quickly, reducing the changes of continued inflation.

For years, politicians in Washington have talked about fiscal responsibility, but never taken on the fight to fix the problems they cause. Preventing politicians from mindlessly spending is common sense. Washington needs to start making the same tough decisions Florida families and businesses must make to pay their bills and keep their finances in order. Government can do this, but it takes discipline. We put fiscal responsibility first when I was governor of Florida and the results speak for themselves. Our economy boomed, creating more than 1.7 million new jobs, we cut taxes 100 times to save Floridians $10 billion and we paid down a third of the state debt.

If we don’t get spending under control, it’s our children and grandchildren that will suffer most as opportunity fades. Now is the time to act. I urge every Floridian to join me in demanding change that secures a prosperous and strong future for our nation.

Republican Rick Scott represents Florida in the United States Senate. He is the former governor of Florida. He wrote this exclusively for the Tampa Bay Times.