During a speech on the Senate floor today, Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, called on Congress to be mindful of the nation’s unsustainable fiscal debt and deficit as lawmakers tackle a new bill to address the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
“I recognize the unprecedented crisis presented by COVID-19 and I supported the necessary response,” said Chairman Enzi. “When this crisis abates, and it will, the federal government cannot afford to return to the status quo of unsustainable budgets and surging debt that jeopardizes the prosperity of future generations. We have to start a serious conversation about how we are going to pay our bills and put our finances on a more sustainable path. We can justify aggressive borrowing and spending as necessary during times of crisis, but that cannot be our default.”
Chairman Enzi noted that this fiscal year we have already run up a deficit of $2.7 trillion, more than triple the size of the deficit we ran at the same time last year. The Congressional Budget Office projects that we are on track to spend $3.7 trillion more than we take in this year, without any new COVID legislation. By the end of the fiscal year, our publicly held debt will exceed the size of our economy, and by the end of next year debt as a percentage of the economy will be higher than it has ever been in U.S. history.
“We are spending billions of dollars without so much as a discussion of how to pay for things while we keep digging the hole deeper for future generations,” Chairman Enzi said. “More legislation may be needed to combat the virus and help the economy, but we cannot use the crisis to justify opening the spending floodgates and borrowing from future generations to fund non-emergency priorities. We all owe it to them to do better, and I hope we start to do so soon.”