Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cantor: 'Honest leadership requires confronting our debt crisis'

By Eric Cantor
April 19, 2011

Your government is a fiscal train wreck. It is over $14 trillion in debt and borrows nearly 40 cents of every dollar that it spends. Before us lie two divergent paths: one defined by crushing debt, slow growth and diminished opportunity; and one defined by achievement, innovation and American leadership. We stand at a crossroads. If we are to leave our children a nation that offers everyone a fair shot at earning their success, we must take the later path. That path of achievement requires political courage and honestly confronting our challenges.

House Republicans have taken an honest, responsible approach to confront the debt crisis facing our nation. We have finally started cutting spending. We have worked to make our government more efficient by doing more with less. And we continue to focus on private sector job growth so that Americans can get back to work. Unfortunately, we have had to drag the president kicking and screaming to get serious and work with us.

Take the Republican budget, for example, which passed the House last week. It is a fact-based proposal that pays down our debt over time and grows our way back to prosperity. It stops the government from spending money it doesn't have, saving nearly $6 trillion over the next ten years. Despite the political risk, we lead where the president failed by addressing our insolvent entitlement programs.

Leading Democrats have said they will use this budget as a political weapon to attack Republicans, despite the fact that our plan guarantees benefits for today's seniors and those nearing retirement. The truth is, these programs are the biggest drivers of our debt, and without significant reforms, they will go broke. Anyone who tells you otherwise — including the president — is simply not being honest. That is why we strengthen and restructure these important programs, for those of us 54 and younger, to ensure that these safety nets will still be available for our children should they need it.

We know cutting spending alone is not enough. Families and business people continue to struggle, which is why our budget includes fundamental tax reform. A more competitive tax system will get our economy churning, create jobs and spur investment in the private sector. We call to end the crony capitalism that allows privileged industries to take advantage of complexities in the tax code, replacing it with a simpler system that lowers rates for all, but makes sure everyone pays their fair share.

Today, President Obama will come to Virginia to deliver the latest in a series of speeches high on partisan attacks, low on solutions. The one specific proposal that he will again champion is a tax increase on working families and small businessmen and women.  He will not offer specifics about how to pay down our debt. He will not outline a plan to save entitlement programs for the next generation. He will not offer a single proposal to increase jobs. Instead, he'll attack those offering serious solutions to overcome these challenges. That isn't leadership. 

I believe we can and will overcome these challenges, but it is going to require honesty and working together on solutions that put America on the path to prosperity.  Mr. President, during your historic bid for the White House, you promised to change the way Washington works. But there's no greater manifestation of the business-as-usual mentality than punting tough decisions and attacking those offering serious solutions. If you will work with us, we can solve these problems for the next generation, rather than simply using them for gain in the next election.

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