By U.S. Senator Jon Kyl

President Obama and other Democrats would have the American people believe that congressional Republicans blocked an extension of unemployment benefits. The fact is, the Senate Republican Leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, has in recent weeks attempted to pass a freestanding, fully paid-for extension of unemployment benefits only to have Senate Democrats object each time.

Why?

Democrats want to borrow the money to pay for unemployment benefits and leave the payment to future generations. Republicans want to offset unemployment benefit extensions with reductions in other spending and there are plenty of savings to be found in a $3 trillion federal budget.

When President Obama proposed legislation with great fanfare last year to codify congressional pay-as-you go rules known as PAYGO he said, Paying for what you spend is basic common sense . . . Perhaps thats why, here in Washington, its been so elusive.

But he has not practiced what he preached.

He has increased spending on a myriad of government programs without offsetting the costs with spending cuts elsewhere. Thats why the Obama administration is presiding over the largest deficits in history: $1.4 trillion last year, and an estimated $1.3 trillion to $1.4 trillion again this year, about three times the previous record.

While the President advocates extending unemployment benefits without worrying how to pay for them now, his allies in the Senate already have additional bills teed up to spend even more and add billions more to already record budget deficits. Pending on the Senate floor, for example, is an emergency spending bill that would cost $81.7 billion!

In other words, this President wants to find ways to spend money today, while putting off the hard choices about how to pay for it until tomorrow. Senator McCain has rightly labeled this generational theft, when we just keep spending billions of dollars today and leave it to our children and grandchildren to figure out how to pay the bill later.

The problem is, the day of reckoning may not really be that far away, as the people of Greece, Portugal, and Ireland are now finding out. Greece, for example, has spent well beyond its means for decades, borrowing money hand over fist to pay for excessive government spending, socialized health care, and lavish benefits for government workers. As noted in a recent Fox News report, its public debt reached nearly 115 percent of its gross domestic product, and its economy is collapsing.

The United States, under the Obama administration, is on a similar trajectory. Debt as a percentage of gross domestic product was 40 percent when President Obama took office, but after just about two years, it will stand at about 62 percent, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The CBO also warns that:

* Large budget deficits will reduce national savings, leading to higher interest rates, more borrowing from abroad, and less domestic investment, which in turn would lower income growth in the United States.

* Growing debt will also reduce lawmakers ability to respond to economic downturns and other challenges.

* Over time, higher debt will increase the probability of a fiscal crisis in which investors will lose confidence in the governments ability to manage its budget, and the government will be forced to pay much more to borrow money.

What that means is, crushing debt will lead to a declining standard of living and more unemployment.

Senate Republicans agree with the President that we need to help people who are hurting from long-term unemployment. We can all rally behind the fully paid-for extension of benefits offered by Senator McConnell. But we should also look beyond benefit extensions and support policies that will help begin creating new jobs and get people back to work. We can start by giving small businesses the job creators of our country the certainty that the tax rates of today will not go up, as theyre scheduled to on January 1.

After all, most people would prefer the certainty of a regular paycheck to unemployment benefits that are subject to the give-and-take of the legislative process. And our economy will be healthier if we replace mounting debt with a solid foundation based on sound fiscal policies.

Sen. Jon Kyl is the Senate Republican Whip and serves on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees. Visit his website at www.kyl.senate.gov or his YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/senjonkyl.   back...
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