Nation's Largest Taxpayer Group Calls Congress's Debt-Ceiling Vote a Symptom of "Spending Fever"

(Alexandria, VA) -- For the fourth time since George W. Bush took office, Congress has raised the debt ceiling and guaranteed that elected officials will keep recklessly running up the nation's credit card, according to the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU).

"Some are celebrating the fact that the government's financial position is no longer in danger because of this increase," said NTU Vice President for Communications Pete Sepp, reacting to the Senate's vote to boost the debt limit to nearly $9 trillion. "But taxpayers have been reminded again of just how close irresponsible federal spending has come to wrecking Washington's full faith and credit."

Sepp contended that if keeping the government afloat were the only issue, Congress could have approved a more modest debt ceiling hike while lawmakers worked to stem the tide of red ink. Instead, Congress gave the nod to a whopping $781 billion increase, more than twice the projected deficit for the next year. "Politicians may hope to avoid another embarrassing vote to plunge future generations into debt until well after the next election, but this may be impossible unless they can cure their spending fever," he said. According to NTU research:

  • It took our government about 200 years to rack up its first trillion dollars in debt (in 1982), but just 10 years to reach $4 trillion (1992), another 10 to reach $6 trillion (2002), and only four years to break $8 trillion.
  • Tax cuts aren't the culprit behind this rising tide of red ink, since federal revenues are projected to grow about 29 percent from 2004 through 2007.
  • Spending increases are the reason for the debt explosion, and the catalysts aren't limited to homeland security, the war in Iraq, and the Gulf Coast hurricanes. In fact, federal education spending under George W. Bush has increased faster than defense spending.
  • On the same day that the Senate voted to increase the debt limit by $781 billion, Congress decided to blow through the equivalent of one-seventh of that increase within hours. The Senate added more than $16 billion in new spending to the $2.8 trillion 2007 budget resolution while the House passed $91.1 billion for supplemental spending.

"Unless both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue get more serious about ending pork-barrel spending, enacting budget process reforms, controlling the growth of entitlements like Medicare, and weeding out low-priority programs, Americans may soon see a time when our national debt increases by trillions of dollars each year," Sepp concluded. "If that happens, no debt ceiling will be high enough to keep our nation from financial ruin."

NTU is a non-profit, non-partisan citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, smaller government, and economic freedom at all levels. For more than 30 years, NTU has advocated enactment of a federal Constitutional Amendment that would require outlays to balance with revenues in peacetime, unless a 3/5 "supermajority" of Congress voted to accept a specific deficit.