The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated our federal budget and our economy. COVID-19 will leave America with the largest government debt-to-GDP ratio since the end of World War II. At the end of World War II, the U.S. represented a majority of global output and were the envy of the world for our manufacturing talent and our prowess in leading the allies effort to defeat fascism. Today, our economy faces headwinds of the virus with no vaccine, and our country faces an increase in our national debt and an increased annual national deficit.
As we deal with the pandemic and bring our economy back to full capacity, Americans need to develop a consensus that the federal government needs to quit trying to fix everything with a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach and instead shift power back to state and local governments. Both before the pandemic and probably long after, the federal government has grown too large and spends too much when compared to our national income.
Each month I monitor the cases of the most egregious examples of wasteful government spending or poor management at the federal level. I reintroduced the "Golden Fleece" award to expose those egregious examples. Over the past six years, I have "awarded" over 50 fleeces for waste and mismanagement. I use each instance as a lesson in how the federal bureaucracy can do a better job of protecting our hard-earned tax dollars.
Ultimately, upon the return to economic growth to really get our spending under control, the United States must reform its mandatory spending programs, cut low-priority spending, and stop performing functions best left to state and local governments – or to the private sector. It will require a cultural change, in which the federal government is smaller, more efficient, and effective as well as a much less expensive and intrusive part of our families’ lives. Getting such a collective action for cultural change by a majority of Congress and the president is difficult. With two thirds of all annual federal spending being mandatory and thereby not subject to the congressional appropriations process – meaning that it happens each year without a congressional vote – citizens need to be aware of and educated on this critically important goal.
I have cosponsored two versions of balanced budget amendments to the U.S. Constitution to bring our spending in line. We must take the necessary steps to ensure that all taxpayer dollars are being used wisely, and we can no longer kick the can down the road on mandatory spending. The pandemic has driven this message home even more intensely. Our children and grandchildren depend on us to solve this growing debt problem and provide them a brighter future.