Congressman Cole’s op-ed previewing the State of the Union address published in The Hill today:
This could be the decisive and historic year the federal government swerves away from bankruptcy. But progress will require the president and his party to exercise previously unseen political courage on entitlement reform.
For four years, President Obama has failed to show leadership on budget issues, even spending the last press conference of his first term lecturing Congress to “pay the bills they have already racked up” as if he had no role driving up record deficits that have made his presidency the most debt-ridden in history. In reality, Obama inherited a yearly deficit of $459 billion that he promptly increased to more than $1 trillion each of his four years in office, as the national debt ballooned from $10.6 trillion and 70 percent of GDP to $16.4 trillion and 105 percent of GDP.
Part of the debt explosion can be attributed to the recession and shifting demographic trends overwhelming the entitlement system. Yet the president rejected the prudent course of spending restraint and pursued a legislative agenda that would be considered reckless even under surplus conditions, pushing through a $787 billion “stimulus” and a $1.9 trillion healthcare bill via party-line votes. The president has not proposed a serious plan to balance the budget and has failed to embrace the recommendations of his own debt commission.