|U.S. Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) met with Murfreesboro residents to discuss the current debt crisis facing the country at a town hall meeting Tuesday.
Black gave a presentation outlining how America’s debt problem is the result of government spending practices.
“We have a debt problem because Washington spends too much, not because taxes are too little,” Black said.
The U.S. has two main spending categories. Forty percent of the budget is for discretionary spending, which is a definite amount of money that cannot be exceeded.
The other 60 percent is made up of non-discretionary spending. This includes programs that are set up by law with certain criteria.
If an individual meets the criteria, they receive the benefits of that program. Because no one is certain how many people will qualify for the programs, there are no definite budget parameters. Entitlement programs, like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, fall into this category.
“The spending is driven by our retirement and health security programs,” Black told residents.
America is an aging population with 10,000 people reaching the age of 65 everyday. Medicare is likely to go broke in 10 years unless something is changed, Black warned.
“For those of you 55 or older, I want you to know that we are not touching your programs. We are not touching the Medicare program,” Black said.
The presentation also emphasized that the debt problem is a threat to job growth, national security and sovereignty, as well as the future of children.
Today, 47 percent of U.S. debt is held by foreign countries, Black said.
“When you have other countries that own that much of your debt, that’s a really scary thing because if you can’t pay that debt these countries are coming to get their money,” Black said.
Businesses are not confident about America, which is why there is little expansion and job growth, Black argued.
“One of the things I hear from businesses is they are not growing and creating jobs because they have a lack of confidence about our country. They are concerned about whether we are going to raise taxes, they are concerned about additional mandates we are going to put on them,” Black said.
Black pointed out that many people believe earmarks and foreign aid are major causes of the debt crisis, but combined only make up two percent of total spending.
The upcoming budget that has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives leaves some additional dollars to start paying off the debt. Black argued that cutting spending, paying down the debt and less regulation of businesses will put America back on track.