Over the past decade, spending by the federal government has doubled from $1.7 trillion to $3.4 trillion. At the same time, the national debt has soared as our country borrows from China and Japan to pay for programs we cannot afford.
Washington has a spending addiction that is driving our nation into bankruptcy.
But if the first step toward breaking an addiction is admitting you have one, then Washington still has a ways to go. In the four years since Congress last passed a budget, the government has spent $11.2 trillion and added $5.5 trillion in new debt.
This reckless pattern of borrowing and spending has placed the United States on the short list of seven industrialized countries whose debt exceeds its total economic output. The last time America's debt topped the size of its overall economy was in 1947 due to the costs incurred fighting World War II.
Examples of Washington's largesse can be found all across the globe -- and beyond. Consider the following:
n The Environmental Protection Agency has spent hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars to test air quality in India, study swine manure in Thailand and teach sustainable cooking techniques in Kenya.
n The National Science Foundation has spent hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars to create a robot squirrel while the Department of Homeland Security was spending tax dollars preparing for the zombie apocalypse.
n The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has spent a million in taxpayer dollars to taste-test foods to be served on the planet Mars.
n DHS spent taxpayer dollars to stage a zombie preparedness exercise.
And yet some in Congress still defend this spending as American families suffer under stagnant paychecks, high unemployment and soaring gas prices. They refuse to accept that Washington has a spending problem, and instead call for higher taxes to fund even more government spending.
What they ignore is the fact that the federal government will collect an unprecedented $2.7 trillion in revenues this year from the American taxpayer. Simply put, we do not have a revenue problem.
It would be wrong to blame our current predicament on one party or one administration. Both Republicans and Democrats have contributed to the nation's financial crisis. It will take both parties working together to dig us out of this hole.
Today, March 1, across-the-board reductions in federal spending, known as "sequestration," are scheduled to kick in as a result of Washington's inability to tackle the deficit. In total, the $85 billion in cuts equates to a 2.4 percent reduction to the federal government's overall budget, or 2.4 cents on every dollar the government spends this year.
While I have voted twice for more targeted reductions of an equal amount, it is not unreasonable to ask an already bloated government to trim the excess waste. In fact, an informal survey of my constituents in Sarasota and Manatee counties revealed that 70 percent supported the $85 billion in spending reductions or said we should cut even more.
Moving forward, it is essential that both parties quit the partisan gridlock, stop the blame game and get to work on behalf of the American people. Families and businesses across America are making the tough choices every day to make ends meet. It is long past time for Washington to wake up and do the same.
The American people deserve nothing less.
U.S. Rep. Buchanan, R-Sarasota, represents Florida's 13th Congressional District.