Washington is failing us. For more than two years the President and the Congress have stumbled from one crisis to the next. Democrats and Republicans are both to blame. Politics, extremism and self-interest have ruined any opportunity for rational debate and real solutions.
Now, faced with a debt of more than $16 trillion, and rising costs in essential health care programs, including Medicare, the President and Congress operate in a constant state of crisis and bickering in Washington. Speaking as a businesswoman, I am confident that if Congress were a business, our leaders would be fired.
Washington has tried a Super Committee, near-government shutdowns, threats and counter threats, cutting taxes and raising taxes, and foolish, across-the-board spending cuts.
At a time when we need economic growth, priority investments and fiscal solvency, there is no serious effort to put the nation back on the right track. We continue to borrow from China and other nations, and the unpaid bills we will pass on to our children and grandchildren keep growing and growing.
In the short-run, I do not support new taxes. Before we raise taxes, we need to drop the foolish idea of across-the-board cuts and use the regular Congressional process to enact measured, targeted cuts. I’m not saying that will be easy or make everyone happy, but that is Congress’ job.
We need to do more to root out waste and prioritize our investments. Consider a few examples:
- Medicare is prohibited by Congress from negotiating lower prices from drug companies. If Congress let Medicare officials do their job, we could save $24 billion every year.
- The Government Accountability Office, a non-partisan agency that serves as the government’s internal watchdog, estimates that the Medicare program makes $44 billion in improper payments each year, most of which are overpayments.
- It is fraud too: The Rand Corporation estimated that fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid cost taxpayers $98 billion in 2011 alone.
In addition to finding savings, we need a real debate to understand our national priorities. I believe we must place a priority on funding infrastructure, providing for our military and veterans, funding education to remain economically competitive, and funding basic services like health care and programs that alleviate poverty and provide opportunity. These are the building block of a secure and prosperous America.
I am often asked if I support raising the debt ceiling. My answer is yes. I don’t like it but it is the right and responsible thing to do. America has an obligation to pay what we owe. Not paying our bills would send a shock through the economy. And if you care about the national debt, then you must know that default would create more debt.
For the long-term, we must be practical and not political. President Obama and Senator Lindsey Graham have both called for a discussion of long-term fiscal solutions that consider reforms to entitlements and new revenue. That is the right place to start. I would also press for tax reform that is fair to middle-class families and small businesses and that will grow the broader economy.