Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s weekly column: Congress must act to cut spending and balance the budget

By Rep. Bob Goodlatte

Congress must expressly authorize any increase in the amount of money the federal government can borrow. Unfortunately, because of continued out-of-control spending, we are facing a situation where Congress is once again being asked to increase the amount of debt the federal government can incur in order to avoid default.

The stakes are very high in this debate. Allowing the U.S. to default on its creditors would unleash drastic economic consequences for the United States and its citizens. Earlier this year, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner issued a letter to Congress detailing the serious financial and economic implications that would result if the federal government defaults on its debt obligations. Among the problems listed was potential catastrophic damage to the economy.

Congress must weigh these dire consequences very carefully when considering whether to increase the U.S. debt limit or to allow the U.S. to default on its debt obligations.

However, Cutting wasteful, unnecessary, and inappropriate spending is of utmost importance.  Unfortunately, Congress has not been restrained by the same realities that American taxpayers face.  When you are preparing a budget for your family, you know that you can’t spend more than you take in.  It’s a simple concept but one that Congress has failed to adhere to for far too long.  We must balance the budget and reduce the deficit and the debt by being good stewards of taxpayer money.

I believe we need to cut spending now, and that we must also enact institutional reforms such as passing a balanced budget amendment, enacting biennial budgeting, and other measures that will bind the federal government’s hands and cut up its credit cards once and for all. I recently voted against legislation to raise the federal debt ceiling that was not accompanied by spending cuts.

Additionally, on the opening day of the 112th Congress I introduced an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to require the federal government to balance its budget each year. This bipartisan resolution, which is supported by a majority of the Members of the House, will force Congress to make the decisions necessary to bring fiscal sanity back to Washington. A balanced budget amendment would help put an end to deficit spending because Congress would no longer be allowed to spend more than it takes in. This in turn would help eliminate the need for future increases in the debt limit because the federal government would no longer need to routinely borrow money to finance its spending.

We are at a crossroads in America. The debt ceiling debate is one piece of a much larger spending problem we must get serious about addressing before it is too late. Ultimately, we must make the tough decisions necessary to balance our budget and pass a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, helping to assure that future governments live within their means and ensuring that our children and grandchildren are not saddled with debt that is not their own.

To contact me about this or any other matter, please visit my website at

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