Tuesday afternoon, US Debt passed the 16 trillion dollar mark and kept going. The interest alone is expected to cost taxpayers five trillion dollars over the next decade. And since the feds spend more than they collect there’s no end in site.
“The 16 trillion dollars that we are looking at is a record for what our country has ever owed,” said Rob Weissert of Florida TaxWatch.
Rob Weissert with Florida TaxWatch says one reason the nation’s debt is growing is Congress isn’t required to balance its budget, like states do. “The State of Florida has done a good job of keeping its budget balanced and keeping it’s expenditures in line with its revenues. At the same time we have not seen that kind of discipline in the federal government.”
In 2010, state lawmakers put the balanced budget issue in front of Florida voters. Seven out of 10 supported the measure, but the amendment had no teeth and Congress keeps spending. In Florida lawmakers are required to balance the budget.
Although the state has issued 23 billion dollars in bonds, mostly for construction, Rick Scott is the first Governor in decades with a serious plan to pay off the bond debt.
“This year for the first time in 20 years we paid down state debt. We paid it down 500 million dollars. This year we are on track to pay our debt down by over a billion dollars,” said the Governor.
Without a constitutional requirement, many believe Congress will never take action. One the other side of the argument opponents say a balanced budget amendment would handicap the country in times of war, or during recessions.
For the past three years, state lawmakers have filed balanced budget bills directed at Congress, but since the state acting on its own doesn’t have the power to change the US Constitution, the bills have been filed to send Congress a message.