Op-Eds

At a time when strong leadership is needed in the White House, President Obama has disappointed us with a budget that punts responsibility for America's greatest fiscal challenges. Lasting solutions will require a willing partner in the White House — and we don't appear to have one right now.

It is disappointing that the president would put forward another budget that spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much. It is a budget that destroys jobs today and would leave future generations a diminished country.

Under his plan, the federal government would spend $46 trillion over the next 10 years, doubling the national debt by the end of his term and tripling it by the end of the decade. The president's much-hyped "spending freeze" for a small fraction of the budget simply locks in the elevated spending levels of the last two years. By contrast, congressional Republicans are working to chart a new course — one that restores confidence to the private sector by getting government spending under control.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently testified before the House Budget Committee that one of the best things Congress can do to get businesses to start hiring and the economy to start growing again is to demonstrate that we have a serious plan that will fix our government's deep fiscal problems.

Last year, the president punted these problems to a commission instead of putting forward his own ideas for balancing the budget. This commission issued its report in December, and while we didn't agree with all of its recommendations, we took the seriousness of its proposal as a hopeful sign, and stood ready to build on its good ideas. To us, the commission's work represented a step forward.

'A step backward'

Unfortunately, the president's budget incorporates virtually none of the commission's recommendations. Instead of moving us forward, the president's budget takes a step backward.

Rebranded as "investment," the spending spree would continue for several agencies and programs that have already received budget increases of 30%, 40%, and in some cases up to 100% over the last two years — and those numbers don't even include the cost of the failed stimulus.

At a time when millions of Americans remain out of work, the president's budget would impose a $1.6 trillion tax hike that would destroy jobs and stifle economic growth. This massive tax hike would leave American families, businesses and entrepreneurs with fewer dollars to save for their kids' education, or to pay their employees, or to spend on a service that employs someone else.

Our debt problem is caused not by taxing too little but by spending too much. We cannot continue to chase ever-higher spending with ever-higher tax rates. An ever-expanding government smothers economic growth, making our debt problem worse and bringing us closer to the day when even bigger tax hikes are sold to us as the solution to a debt crisis that spending caused. The American people can see this coming from a mile away — no wonder they are concerned.

Sacrificing our future

In his weekly radio address, the president said that it would be a mistake to balance the budget by sacrificing government investments for our children. We think it would be a mistake to accept his budget because it sacrifices our children's future. The most important action we can take is to protect our children's future by tackling head-on the crushing debt they are poised to inherit. It would be a mistake to bequeath to them a nation crippled by debt. We owe it to them to meet and overcome this challenge, leaving them with a more prosperous future.

Where we find common ground in this budget, we will certainly work with the president. But where he has fallen short, we will instead seek a new course: one that restrains spending, restores confidence and puts our nation back on the path to prosperity.

Sen. Jeff Sessions represents Alabama in the U.S. Senate and serves as ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee. Rep. Paul Ryan represents Wisconsin's first congressional district and serves as chairman of the House Budget Committee.

This op-ed originally appeared in USA Today.