By Ron Johnson
Prior to being elected to the United States Senate last November, I spent 31 years building a plastics manufacturing business in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. My educational background is in accounting and finance, but when you help start a business from scratch, you wind up doing just about everything. I operated machinery, loaded trucks and railcars, hired and trained the staff, kept the books, paid taxes, purchased raw materials, sold our finished products, did payroll, opened mail, emptied trash, and made coffee.
Why am I telling you this?
Because I’m not in the least bit unusual. Every day, millions of hard-working business owners, and the good people that work with them, struggle to build a good life for themselves and their families. They are the backbone of America. They work hard and play by the rules. And they live within their means.
Why can’t Washington?
Because Washington is horribly broken. Over the last 31 years, I’ve watched from afar as Washington became increasingly deaf to the American experience. Now that I’m here, Washington feels like a foreign land — an alternate universe. There is very little here that makes any sense whatsoever.
What seems obvious to the rest of America is beyond the collective grasp of politicians in Washington. How else can one explain borrowing over $4 trillion in an effort to spend our way into prosperity? The rest of us know that when you’re in debt up to your eyeballs, the solution is not to incur more debt. The solution is to control your spending and cut up your credit cards.
Which brings me to my main point: We need to cut up Washington’s credit cards. Limiting what Washington can borrow is the only way we can force our government to prioritize and control its spending. There is no other solution. It will be hard. But if we want to secure our economic future, it has to be done.
Millions of Americans work hard each and every day to make their businesses and households successful. By comparison, when it comes to dealing with the debt crisis, President Obama is just “phoning it in.”
He has delegated his crucial role to Vice President Biden and Treasury Secretary Geithner. The president’s 2,400-page budget, THE supposed solution to the problem, was defeated in the Senate by a vote of ZERO to 97. That is a stunning repudiation of his leadership on the issue. The only action his administration seems to be taking on the debt ceiling is a concerted effort to scare the markets and the American people. Instead, President Obama should be attempting to calm the markets by taking responsible action to solve the problem.
On May 25th, I wrote a letter to President Obama that was signed by 22 of my Republican Senate colleagues. We asked the president to work with us to develop real solutions. We also warned him that it would be highly irresponsible to assume the debt ceiling will be increased without enacting the necessary reforms.