U.S. Sen. George LeMieux brought his "2007 budget express" to Orlando and Tampa Wednesday, standing up with fellow deficit hawks Robert Bixby and David Walker to get the word out about America's massive debt and deficits.
It's a problem, LeMieux insists, that puts the country on a course for real disaster.
Bixby, who is executive director of the Concord Coalition, a fiscal responsibility advocacy group, said the country's $12.8 trillion debt and this year's $1.5 trillion deficit are more than problems of mere numbers.
"It's not a numbers issue, it's a moral issue," Bixby said. "It's about the legacy we're leaving to future generations, and right now that's not a very good legacy."
According to estimates from the Government Accountability Office, federal revenues will only cover Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on the national debt through 2022. By 2046, national revenues won't be enough to cover the interest on the debt, estimates show.
Walker, who is the former comptroller general of the United States, is not only concerned about the level of the national debt, but about who is financing it.
"We have no money and we're getting it from China, Japan and OPEC nations and it's time to wake up and start doing something about it," Walker said.
LeMieux said he submitted a proposal to balance the federal budget by 2013 and cut the national debt in half by 2020, all by capping federal spending at 2007 levels. But he admitted it might not get much support among his colleagues in Congress.
"They think it can't be done," he said. "In 2007 we had flush tax revenues, we should be able to live off that."
The plan, dubbed "the 2007 solution," would fast-track legislation each year to cap spending at $2.7 trillion, the amount spent in 2007. But the plan also counts on Congress to reform widely expanding entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare as the "baby boomers" enter retirement and health care costs continue to rise. They are all large, complicated issues Congress has been loath to tackle, LeMieux said.
Ultimately, LeMieux wants to ensure that America's crushing fiscal responsibilities do not lead his four children and future generations to look to other countries for better opportunities. He emphasized that the time for urgency is now.
"This problem is not 10 years away, in my mind the problem is two to five years away," he said.
Rubio Still LeMieux's Choice
In an after-seminar interview in Orlando with Sunshine State News, the Florida senator renewed his support for Marco Rubio and expressed his hope that the charismatic, conservative former House speaker will win the seat he is vacating.
Although LeMieux was a long-time political ally of Gov. Charlie Crist -- in fact Crist appointed him to the Senate in 2009 -- he is now working to keep the governor, an independent, from replacing him in Washington.
"When he left the party, (helping Crist) was a path I could not take," LeMieux said.
With Kendrick Meek and Jeff Greene battling each other in the Democratic primary Aug. 24 to see who will join Crist and Rubio in the three-way race, LeMieux said it is too early to discuss how Crist will caucus or vote if he is elected.
"We've still got a Democratic candidate to be decided in a few weeks," he said. "That's the decision in front of the voters right now -- who is the best person to be the senator from Florida?"
In his mind, LeMieux said, the answer is Marco Rubio.
Gray Rohrer, who writes "special to Sunshine State News, lives in Titusville. He can be reached at email@example.com.