The biggest driver of our short- and long-term deficit problems is the exponential growth in spending on entitlement programs, which has increased from less than half of total federal outlays 20 years ago to nearly 62 percent in 2012. On its current trajectory, the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Obamacare will reach 18.5 percent of GDP by midcentury.
Ultimately, in order to address both our economic and fiscal challenges, we must shore up entitlements and comprehensively reform the tax code by lowering rates and closing special interest loopholes to create a fairer and simpler code.
But first, the president and Congress must come to an agreement in the next month on legislation that ensures: 1. Jobs are not destroyed by higher tax rates, and 2. automatic spending cuts are not “turned off” but rather are done in a way that does not threaten our national security.
The lame-duck session is a critical opportunity to lay the groundwork of bipartisanship with policies that reflect our economic and fiscal realities that will set the stage for entitlement reform and comprehensive, pro-growth tax reform in the 113th Congress.
Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., serves on the Ways and Means and Budget committees.