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Our leaders in Washington must fix the debt problem

From Jim Rogers, chairman, president and CEO of Duke Energy:

With ever-increasing mountains of debt, the track our country is on is not sustainable. At more than $11.8 trillion, the size of our publicly held national debt currently amounts to more than 73 percent of our entire economy, and is set to hit 100 percent by the early 2030s. A debt burden of this magnitude could increase interest rates, inflation and unemployment, and could even lead to a debt-fueled fiscal crisis.

This is why I have joined the Campaign to Fix the Debt, a nonpartisan group of more than 350,000 citizens from across the country, who have come together to demand that our leaders show us that our faith in them is well placed. We need a solution that, among other things, reduces wasteful and low-priority spending and simplifies the tax code.

I encourage everyone to take a moment to sign the petition at www.fixthedebt.org and demand a common sense solution to prevent disaster and renew our nation’s economic strength. After more than 35 years in the energy industry and in my 25 years as an electric utility CEO, I have been proud to be with dedicated teammates committed to providing clean, reliable and affordable power to people’s homes and businesses 24/7. Through it all, I’ve learned that long-term success in this industry requires a commitment to sustainability, efficiency and reliability.

Washington must show the same commitment. If we stay on our current course, a decade from now, more than three-quarters of all federal spending will be taken up by just two items: our entitlement programs and interest on our national debt. This budgetary squeeze will crowd out other vital government functions, including investments in education, research and technology, which enable American companies to compete worldwide. Our leaders must find a way to make these programs sustainable over the long term so they continue to deliver for the people who need them most, without further increasing the financial burden we leave to our grandchildren.

Washington also has an efficiency problem. We need to take a look at where we can make smart cuts to eliminate duplicative and wasteful spending. The recently enacted “sequester” spending cuts could cause economic pain, without doing much at all to increase the efficiency of our government or help reduce deficits in the long term.

Spending isn’t the only problem. Our government is also inefficient in the way it collects revenue. We need comprehensive reform that makes the tax code simpler and fairer for all Americans, while encouraging economic growth and business competitiveness – because when the economy grows, we are all better off.

Finally, Washington simply needs to be more reliable. Americans rely on their leaders to enact policies that put us on a stable path to a successful future.

We expect members of Congress from both political parties and the president to work together and find a comprehensive solution. We expect them to fix the debt. For more information and to make your voice heard, visit www.fixthedebt.org

For the Record offers commentaries from various sources. The views are the writer’s, and not necessarily those of the Observer editorial board.
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