Wearing a cap and gown, I sat on the field at the University of Maine contemplating my years in college.
I earned an education in the classroom, in the offices of student government where I served as president, and in the literally thousands of casual — and strong — friendships I made on that beautiful Maine campus.
Also on my mind was the student debt I accumulated.
I received a small academic scholarship and some financial aid, but I also had racked up a sizeable debt. I knew it needed to be paid.
Over the years I worked diligently to pay off that debt. I paid it, all of it.
I believe when a person, large or small business — or a government — incurs debt, it should be paid back.
Who would disagree with this fundamental principle?
Imagine my amazement last week when I read an official statement from the Maine Democratic Party attacking Republican leaders for seeking a federal Balanced Budget Amendment.
That’s right, the Maine Democratic Party went officially on record saying its leaders are opposed to having the federal government balance the books like families, small businesses, and most state governments must do year after year.
I have spent more than 25 years working to assist leaders who believe government must pay its bills. If we want a road, a school, a military jet or a national monument, we should pay for it. Most would agree this makes sense and that less debt helps the economy.
But the Democrats’ official press release headline declared: “Balanced Budget Trap Puts our Nation’s Economic Security at Risk.” They went on to describe how balancing a budget would harm the economy. I am still having a hard time deciding if we should cringe or chuckle at this statement.
The Democratic Party called the Balanced Budget Amendment a “reckless proposal.” Never mind that the majority of states are required to balance their budgets, states such as Maine for instance. Just think about how unbelievably “reckless” Maine’s founders must have been.
Then, there are the 27 other U.S. States that have already gone on record calling for a Balanced Budget Amendment. They must be “reckless” as well.
Maybe they were just blinded by partisan rage in the fact that Gov. Paul LePage, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, and Sen. Susan Collins all support this common sense idea.
Poliquin is a co-sponsor and lead advocate for the amendment in the House, and LePage held a press conference on this just last week.
Our national debt is a defining issue in our time.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office last September noted that “federal debt held by the public will reach about $12.8 trillion by the end of this fiscal year, an amount that equals 74 percent of the nation’s total output (gross domestic product, or GDP) this year.”
The Congressional Budget Office also reported our nation’s government just spent $231 billion in 2014 on interest alone.
Set aside the fact that reducing taxes can help spur the economic output of the “governed” and imagine what that $231 billion could have bought if it were spent on something other than interest.
If you worry about decaying infrastructure, think about that number for a second.
This official proclamation from my good friends on the other side of the aisle made me realize when we see one of those “D” logos, it no longer stands for Democrat. It now officially stands for “Debt.”
It is clear red ink that runs in the blood of their party.
It is time to stop the bleeding.
Brent Littlefield is a national political consultant and commentator, senior political adviser to Gov. Paul LePage, campaign consultant to U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, and an adviser to other organizations such as Maine People Before Politics.