The Pryor Times

Opinion

March 21, 2013

Debt: The time to act is now

Washington View- Re. Markwayne Mullin

Shortly after graduating from high school, my wife and I took over my family’s small plumbing business, which at that time was over a half a million dollars in debt. A quarter of a million dollars of that debt was past due.

I resolved for the sake of my family and for our employees, I would make the company solvent and ensure we never again fell into those circumstances. For the next three years, my wife and I worked seven days a week, making the difficult decisions necessary to get the business out of the red. We closely scrutinized every part of the company, keeping what worked and getting rid of what did not in order to control costs.

Today, I am pleased to say, our business is debt free. However, I am saddened I can’t say the same for our country. The national debt is at record levels and we borrow around 40 cents for every dollar government spends. Our country is far from financially stable.

The debt is destabilizing our nation’s economy, threatening our security and saddling future generations with a mountain of unpaid bills.

President Obama has yet to submit his budget and instead the country is operating under continuing resolutions. As a business owner, I can say that trying to run a business without a budget is a way to quickly rack up debt.

The nation’s debt is not being ignored by people across the Second District. We are not a wealthy district and people here work hard for their paychecks. They are frustrated by their federal government that tosses around millions and billions seemingly without much consideration. At a recent town hall meeting in Holdenville a resident spoke against continually raising the debt ceiling and said, “I am tired of paying taxes and them (Washington) wasting my money.”

Verdigris resident Dennis Zeimet, a certified financial planner with Raymond James Financial Services, said he hopes I will bring new energy and a strong voice to awaken others in Washington about the troubling problem of borrowing and spending that has accelerated over the last several years.

“The lack of fiscal responsibility and a solid debt reduction plan going forward caused one rating agency to downgrade the credit rating of America’s financial condition 18 months ago,” Zeimet said. “At the moment rating agencies still have us on ‘negative watch,’ meaning our debt could be downgraded again.

“It has been a year and a half and I have seen no significant progress addressing this issue, which is frustrating!” Zeimet added. “Again we have reached the national borrowing limit (debt ceiling) and congress must act to avert another potential show down like we saw in 2011.”

Even as a 20-year-old with no business experience, I understood that I wouldn’t be able to keep our family business afloat when it was in so much debt. I had no ability to raise the company’s debt ceiling. I could only operate with the revenue we brought in. The choices my wife and I had to make were tough, but our path forward was always clear.

Our country is at that moment where we must have a sensible debt reduction program that gives us a government we can afford and one that works. The frustrating thing is Washington lacks the vision and leadership to get it done.

If we want this country to truly grow and prosper and if we want to ensure we do not burden our children and grandchildren with insurmountable debt, our path is also clear and the time to act is now.

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