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Column

Budget cabinet will draw attention to national debt

This week, former Congressman Leonard Boswell and I were among a bi-partisan group of 10 Iowa leaders in business, civics and politics appointed to the First Budget Cabinet. I am honored to have a chance to work closely with Leonard Boswell. Members of the First Budget Cabinet are working to bring attention to the national debt and spark conversation among presidential candidates in both parties on this critical issue.

Currently, the United States’ debt stands at more than $18 trillion — and rising daily. Interest on the debt is the fastest growing category of federal spending. By the time the next President takes office, the federal government will spend $331 billion on interest payments. As a result, less funding is available to invest in education, transportation, medical research and other programs important to the future.

The largest drivers of the debt include an aging population that is leaving the work force, paying less in taxes and starting to draw Social Security and Medicare benefits. Other factors include rising health care costs; interest costs, which will only get larger once interest rates return to normal; and an inefficient tax system riddled with special provisions favoring some individuals and businesses over others. Addressing these challenges will require legislators and the administration to reach across traditional party divides to take action.

At times, it can seem like there is nothing Democrats and Republicans can agree on. That is why, when opportunities arise for bipartisan solutions to important issues, we must grab them. Putting the country on a solid fiscal path is one such opportunity we can address together.

We cannot mortgage our children’s futures, and although the situation looks grim, there are solutions.

I have joined with the First Budget campaign to use Iowa’s unique position to advocate directly to national leaders for sound fiscal policies. Our state’s first-in-the-nation Presidential caucus status allows Iowans the distinct privilege of vetting presidential candidates and helping to shape national campaign priorities.

As a voter and representative of the “First Budget” campaign, I will be asking presidential candidates who comes to Jasper County what he or she plans to do to address our federal debt. We need candidates who are committed to bold, bipartisan solutions. Also, we shouldn’t be interested, let alone impressed, by the same old ‘shame and blame’ partisan approach to the issue.

The federal debt is a large and complex problem, and only plans that both increase revenue and reform spending will be viable. So we will urge candidates to focus on national priorities rather than narrow, partisan talking points.

Bipartisan action is not a pipe dream. I know firsthand that solving our policy problems is best done when we work together as Iowans, rather than as Democrats or Republicans. Let’s ask all Presidential candidates to think seriously about the federal debt and to offer workable plans to get it under control. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or independent, if you’d like to learn more and take action, visit www.firstbudget.org.

I want to hear your ideas. Call me at home, 641-521-9260 or email dan.kelley@legis.iowa.gov. Send correspondence to Rep Dan Kelley, PO Box 333, Newton IA 50208. Visit my website at www.electkelley.com.

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