Reining in Government Spending

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By Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY)

At a hearing in March I asked Secretary Tim Geithner whether the US was at risk for losing our AAA credit rating, as a Moody’s quarterly report had indicated. He point blank responded that there is “not a chance” that this would happen to our country. I wish I could share his confidence, but given how things have unraveled in the past few months, I believe that America needs to take a step back and seriously reevaluate the way the government does business these days.


While the Administration pushed through a failed stimulus bill, continued the mantra of “too big to fail” and lobbied for bailout after bailout for private companies, something was happening to our friends in Greece. All the spending, entitlement programs, and massive debt began to catch up with that government and would soon spur panic across the globe.

In April, one month after I questioned Secretary Geithner, Moody’s downgraded Greece’s credit rating because of its deficit, debt, and lavish spending. Sound familiar?

That’s because the United States is eerily marching down the same path as Greece. That path is marked with reckless spending, soaring debt and historically high deficits.

In April 2010, Greece’s FY 2009 deficit was estimated at 13.6% of the GDP. The United States FY 2009 deficit reached a record high of $1.4 trillion, or 9.9% of the GDP. If we continue to follow the President’s proposed budget, over the next ten years our average deficit will surpass the number that brought Greece to its knees.

Then there is the lingering issue of the debt. Greece’s debt reached 115% of the GDP and could reach 150% of the GDP before too long. Interestingly enough, the CBO reports that the US debt will jump dramatically from 53% to 63% between FY 2009 and FY 2010. And, just yesterday the Treasury Department estimated that by 2015 the ratio of US debt to GDP would rise 102% to nearly $20 trillion.

I wonder if Secretary Geithner would make such a bold statement about the US credit ratings today?

One thing remains clear — the United States has a spending problem. Rather than reign in spending during tough economic times the liberals in Congress have pushed through a massive health care bill that sinks us further into debt, allows the government to control over 1/6 of our nation’s economy and does nothing to lower health care costs. Meanwhile, Americans are still unemployed, they are still hurting, and they are forced to watch their government pass down a burdensome debt to their children and grandchildren.

You would think our nation would learn from Greece’s example. Unfortunately, the Administration did what it always does when it faces an uncomfortable economic uncertainty- it approved a taxpayer funded bailout for Greece. That’s right, you and I are footing $6.8 billion of Greece’s bailout through the IMF.

It is no surprise that in a recent Gallup poll 79% of Americans view the federal debt as a very serious threat to the future well being of the country. If hardworking taxpayers can understand the implications of our government’s reckless fiscal policies, why can’t President Obama, Senator Reid or Speaker Pelosi?

Enough is enough. The time to waste opportunities to reign in spending is over. Congress needs to pass a budget that reflects what each and every American family is doing back home- cutting back on spending and reprioritizing for the years ahead. Sticking our heads in the sand will only further our economic challenges and encumber the success of our future generations.

Congressman Hal Rogers represents Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District and currently serves as the Ranking Member on the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.

The views expressed by guest bloggers on the Foundry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Heritage Foundation.

Rep. Hal Rogers wrote this for