Glenn Thompson: A balanced budget for a stronger America

On Sept. 22, 2011, former Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen referred to our national debt as “the single biggest threat to our national security.” He was correct in his statement that the United States continues to suffer from overbearing debt and unless immediate action is taken, future generations will face unsurmountable challenges.

No one wants a future where policymakers are forced to choose between discretionary programs, like roads and bridges or educating our children, when they continue to be crowded out by mandatory spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of our annual budget.

We need a strong social safety net. We need a strong national defense. We need an America where young learners can have access to a quality education and workers can receive the skills they need to gain family sustaining jobs and keep businesses thriving and competitive, both domestically and globally.

Unfortunately, aspirations for a more prosperous America are not going to be achieved until we begin to get out from underneath the burden of debt. Since 2009, more than $7 trillion has been added to our national debt and today we owe more than $18 trillion, an amount greater than the annual gross domestic product. While bipartisan agreements have led to some successes since 2011, Congress must continue to put forth a blueprint that aims to reduce deficit spending and provide a path to long-term fiscal stability.

Recently, the House passed a budget resolution, which aims to reduce spending by $5.5 trillion, get a handle on erroneous regulations and mandates that impede job creation, and promote true patient-centered health care solutions.

Critics of this plan have unashamedly claimed that Republicans “want to end Medicare as we know it.” Those accusations could not be further from the truth. Unfortunately, these nearsighted individuals have focused more on partisan attacks, rather than looking at the long-term challenges we as a country face together. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the Medicare Hospital Trust Fund will be insolvent by 2030, which is closer than we all would like to admit.

Our proposal presents a plan to save, strengthen and secure Medicare for today’s seniors and tomorrow’s retirees. It makes no changes for those in or near retirement, provides future seniors with premium support, and will result in actual savings for both beneficiaries and taxpayers. The do-nothing alternative will only serve to break promises this country has made to our seniors and places us on a road to rationing, where beneficiaries will be burdened with arbitrary caps to medically necessary procedures and care.

I am in no way claiming this blueprint is perfect, but please be assured that I was not elected to sit idle, nor squander an opportunity to ensure our great country can continue to support promises we have made.

Moving forward, as the House and Senate begin to conference and work out the details between each chamber’s respective budgets, I will remain committed to ensuring a strong national security, economic competitiveness and an atmosphere that fosters positive growth throughout Pennsylvania and across our great country. We have been given an opportunity to strengthen this great nation. Let us work toward that end, rather than vilify those who look to provide us options. Our children and future generations of Americans deserve as much.