Almost a year ago, I stood next to my wife, Bonnie, put my hand on my father’s Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution and represent the people of Georgia in the U.S. Senate. This is a role I never imagined, but one I take very seriously.
To emphasize the magnitude of this responsibility, I held my first staff meeting at the National Archives – home of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We reflected deeply on the role of our federal government and the need to hold it accountable to the people we represent.
I came to the Senate with a sense of urgency to make a difference. In my first weeks, I sponsored three bills that would help put in place a system that is more representative of Georgia’s priorities, including a constitutional amendment to balance the budget; a Fair Tax system; and term-limits legislation.
But as a businessman with no political experience, it immediately became clear to me that Washington’s budget process is broken. It has only worked four times in the past 40 years. In the real world, this would have been fixed long ago.
OUR GOVERNMENT today spends more than two-thirds of its annual budget on mandatory expenses. That is more than four times what we spend on defense. This explosion in spending has propelled our nation into a debt crisis that already is well past the tipping point. In fact, Washington has racked up so much debt that it amounts to nearly $1 million for every American family. Equally as concerning, career politicians have no plan to solve this problem anytime soon.
Clearly, we simply have to get our nation’s finances in order not only to ensure our economic security, but also to project American leadership and guarantee our country’s security. The United States must have the financial resources available to invest in a strong military, support our allies and secure our nation from foreign threats.
We definitely can solve this debt crisis and save Social Security and Medicare. We also can deal with this global security crisis – but we have to get started right now.
As a member of both the Senate Budget Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I am in a unique position to help change the direction of our country. My goal is to continue to work to focus Washington on solving these two deeply interconnected crises for our children and grandchildren.
Last year, the Budget Committee produced a conservative budget that cut $7 trillion from the president’s 10-year budget, and paved the way to repeal Obamacare and send this repeal to the president’s desk. Unfortunately, Washington ultimately fell into its old ways and abandoned this budget – just as it has done 36 times out of the past 40 years. Reforming this broken budget process is just one step we must take to get our country back on track.
ADDITIONALLY, FROM my seat on the Foreign Relations Committee, we focused much of this year on stopping further nuclear proliferation and completing the first State Department authorization since 2002. The absence of global leadership from the United States has led many of our allies to question our financial and military commitments, and invoked doubt in our ability to defeat terrorism once and for all.
Looking forward, my goal is to get Washington to adopt a more holistic approach to fixing the underlying drivers of our debt and addressing these global security challenges. Georgians and Americans cannot afford another 12 months of inaction on these issues in Washington, which has created a dangerous power vacuum at home and around the world.
Finally, I would like to thank you and your families for your continued feedback and support. I am humbled and sobered to serve as Georgia’s junior senator, but encouraged for the future. I still share your outrage with the fiscal irresponsibility going on in Washington.
We have much work to do this year, and I am energized that with your help we can change the direction of our country. Thank you for all you have done to help us last year.
(The writer is the junior senator from Georgia.)