The COVID-19 pandemic cast the United States into uncharted territory.
Americans were asked to take unprecedented steps in order to slow down the spread of the virus. I have supported bipartisan efforts Congress and President Trump have enacted to fight this virus and provide economic relief. However, I continue to have serious concerns about the costs associated with these bills. We have long had a spending problem, and we must refocus on addressing troubling spending patterns even while fighting COVID-19.
Our debt crisis was not created all at once and is not the product of insufficient revenue; it is the product of long-term, uncontrolled federal spending. Our debt doubled from 2009-2019, despite record revenues. Even after enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, with the goal of providing tax relief and reform to as many Americans as possible, Treasury collected $3.5 trillion in revenue in 2019 – an increase from the year before.
For this reason, I joined a bipartisan group of more than 60 of my colleagues in writing Speaker Pelosi and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy calling for deficit reduction as part of future pandemic legislation, to ensure we are addressing fiscal repercussions of our response. We must continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic and its fallout, but our goals must include safely reopening our economy so we can help Americans return to work.
While the shutdown of our economy broke our record streak of job growth, we are starting to see positive signs of a comeback. Reopening our economy led to a record for job growth in May at 2.5 million jobs added, as well as a real drop in unemployment. Americans have always defied expectations, and I know this time will be no different as long as we don’t strap down the economy with even more debt.
After working together in Congress, I have been disappointed by proposals brought to the floor by Speaker Pelosi. In May, the majority passed a three trillion-dollar spending package with the stated goal of providing additional economic relief. However, this bill was largely focused on extending cash handouts rather than reopening our economy, and included unrelated issues like Marijuana banking and ballot harvesting. In addition, last week Speaker Pelosi unveiled a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package which contains massive amounts of unproven projects and includes provisions taken straight from the so-called “Green New Deal.” The one thing the package does not have is a method to pay for this new spending. I am concerned we are using the background of a pandemic to fund unrelated passion projects rather than considering the weight of the immense increased spending.
If we do not control our spending now, it is our children and grandchildren who will bear the weight of this debt. Before the pandemic, our debt was already at unacceptable levels. I am glad we were able to come together and pass meaningful response legislation, but we cannot continue to spend our way out of this challenge without taking a deeper look at our financial situation.