Congress should authorize them to return federal spending to pay down the debt.
While American families everywhere are cutting costs, Washington still can’t seem to rein in its reckless spending, leaving our national debt skyrocketing to the detriment of future generations. This neglect of our fiscal health is unacceptable. It is imperative we begin paying down the debt — starting yesterday.
Excessive and ineffective spending is an important cause of our growing debt, yet states have little say in what happens to federal money if they choose not to spend it. They essentially have two choices: use it, or lose it to someone else. There is no option to stop those funds from being spent elsewhere, which is why I am reintroducing the Returned Exclusively for Unpaid National Debt, or “REFUND,” Act next week in the Senate.
The REFUND Act will allow states to identify and return unwanted federal funds to the federal treasury for the specific purpose of paying down the national debt. This prevents the Treasury from continuing its current practice of spending the returned funds elsewhere, which provides no real incentive for states to turn away federal funds.
The legislation would also end today’s “use it or lose it” mentality, which encourages states to take debt-financed money from Washington. For example, two years ago, the state of Florida was allocated $2.4 billion in federal stimulus funds for a high-speed-railway project, but turned down the money because it would have put the state on the hook for more spending in the long run. The money was then offered under a new bidding process for other states to fund their own high-speed-rail programs. Under the REFUND Act, Florida would have been able to use that money toward paying down our $16 trillion debt.
The national debt is a crushing burden to our children and grandchildren; many state officials and leaders realize this and want to make responsible decisions to help alleviate that burden. These fiscally responsible states should be allowed to divert Washington’s spending spree toward debt reduction and do their part to end the practice of spending money we don’t have.
Read more at National Review Online.