Lee offers proposal on paying off the national debt


Paying off school loans is hard enough,  but paying off a national debt of $14.29 trillion may prove impossible.

Senator Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, announced Thursday a proposed amendment to the Constitution that would limit spending by the federal government.  The Cut, Cap, Balance Act seeks to reduce the annual deficit and place a cap on federal spending.

Lee said BYU students should be concerned about decisions that will soon be made addressing the national debt.

“Decisions are being made for you resulting in you having to devote more and more of your life … to working just so you can pay your federal tax bills,” he said.

According to Lee, many of the long-lasting effects of the debt will fall directly in the lap of today’s students if not corrected.

“We are authorizing the federal government to spend money that you are going to have to pay in the future,” he said. “The federal government has been borrowing money in increasingly large chunks ever since you were born, since before you were born. You’ll be responsible, in one way or another, for paying for that.”

Although the national debt continues to increase, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced in May that the U.S. can continue to borrow until Aug. 2, when it will hit the debt ceiling at $14.29 trillion.

Lee said raising the debt ceiling isn’t the answer.

“Each time we raise the debt limit, we’re flirting with economic catastrophe,” Lee said. “Every government program is potentially threatened by our debt problem … unless we put some kind of limit on it.”

The Council on Foreign Relations reported Congress has raised the federal spending cap 74 times since 1962, but continuing to do so can potentially have very serious consequences for the nation and its students.

“For college students, that means diminished freedom resulting from time you will have to pay … It threatens your ability to buy a house or buy a car,” Lee said.

Tom Daschle, a Democrat and former Senator from South Dakota, feels a constitutional amendment isn’t the realistic answer the U.S. is looking for.

“Amending the U.S. Constitution to deal with our nation’s debt obligations is neither practical nor possible,” Daschle said in an opinion editorial in the Wall Street Journal. “Tying the hands of lawmakers by restricting their ability to respond to changing economic conditions would be a disaster.”

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