Like most conservatives, I believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. Unlike my Republican colleagues, I’m willing recognize that the greatest threat to our nation is a debt crisis caused by cowardly politicians unwilling to be fiscally responsible.
Although we currently spend roughly $7 million per minute and face a debt of over $18 trillion, our Republican-controlled Congress recently passed a new spending bill that will add $700 billion in additional debt. This reckless habit of spending money we don’t have has gone on for far too long, and we must face fiscal reality immediately. It’s time to stop spending more than what comes in.
This week, I issued a special Christmas edition of "The Waste Report." In this publication, I regularly highlight some of the most egregious examples of reckless government spending. Since I began publishing the Waste Report, I’ve discovered that we have spent taxpayer money on everything from:
- $6 million campaign to promote tourism in Albania
- $43 million gas station in Afghanistan
- $15 million grant to allow a golf club maker to do research in space
- $50,000 Christmas tree television ads
- $15.6 million grant to cover foreign students’ college tuition
- $175 million study on sleep apnea riddled with fraud
- $450,000 grant to produce climate change video games
- $25,000 laundromat for the U.S. Forest Service
- $100,00 flower show for the National Park Service
- $380,000 study to investigate the "Freshman 15"
- $218,000 campaign to sterilize feral coyotes and invasive burros
- $15,000 grant for a conference on balding
That’s right—despite our out-of-control debt resulting in fewer Americans working than at any other time since the Jimmy Carter administration, we’re still promoting Christmas trees and building an unusable gas station in a war zone.
There is clearly hundreds of millions of dollars worth of pork barrel spending that can and should be removed from our list of expenditures. Yet, my Republican colleagues—including fellow presidential candidates Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio—refuse to cut even a penny.
This March, Cruz and Rubio wanted to increase military spending by $190 million over the next two years. I called for raising defense spending by the same amount, but also proposed offsetting the hike with proportional cuts in other areas of the budget. Cruz, Rubio, and nearly every other Republican in the Senate voted against my amendment. Fiscal responsibility is apparently much easier to say than to do.
The problem in Washington is that there is an unholy alliance between right and left that comes together to spend more of your money at every turn. Conservatives want more military spending. Liberals want more domestic spending. As a result, they shake hands and agree to spend more on everything.
Congress will never balance the budget unless we force them to do so. That’s why I have advocated for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution for years. We cannot trust careless, fiscally irresponsible bureaucrats to slow spending. Over the years, I have also introduced three balanced budgets, and the most recent one lays out precisely what programs, departments, and expenditures I would cut in order to bring fiscal stability back to our nation’s checkbook. Every conservative that pays lip service to reining in the debt should follow my lead and do the same.
Although they all ran on fiscally conservative platforms, our last three Republican presidents added over $9 trillion to our national debt. Today, the economy is simply too frail to weather more broken promises from conservatives running to lead the nation into the future. As 2016 approaches us, I encourage my colleagues and opponents to begin thinking long and hard about the kind of future they want their children and grandchildren to have, as well as what they will change in the new year in order to make those expectations possible.
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