America is staggering under $34 trillion in debt and persistent, cavernous deficits. As a country, we must fix this.

In his first address assuming the gavel, the newly-minted Speaker Mike Johnson made a promise.

“The greatest threat to our national security is our nation’s debt,” Speaker Johnson said. “We have a duty to the American people to explain this to them so they understand it well and we are going to establish a bipartisan debt commission to begin working on this crisis immediately.”

It took him just a few months since giving that late October speech to fulfill that promise, with last week’s announcement that the House Budget Committee voted to establish a bipartisan fiscal commission. 

“Military and financial leaders say America’s $34 trillion debt poses the largest long-term threat to our national and economic security. As stewards of taxpayer dollars, Congress has a moral responsibility to future generations to stop the madness and bring spending under control,” Johnson said after the Budget Committee’s vote.

Speaker Johnson’s right. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2010, Admiral Mike Mullen, said at that time that, “the most significant threat to our national security is our debt.” 

The Wall Street Journal editorial board notes:

“Social Security is running out of money, and doing nothing will result in a 23% cut to benefits within a decade. The retirement trust fund, according to the latest report, will be depleted in 2033, at which point the incoming cash ‘will be sufficient to pay 77 percent of scheduled benefits.’ … Social Security was 19% of total federal outlays in 2022. Medicare was 12% and Medicaid 9%. The category of “other means tested entitlements” was another 10%. Add those up, and they’re half of federal spending. As social programs keep growing, they crowd out everything that’s counted as “discretionary,” including national defense, which was 12%.

This problem will get worse. By the year 2053, Social Security outlays will climb to 6.2% of GDP from 4.8%, the Congressional Budget Office estimates. Medicare will go to 5.5% from 2.8%.”

In an oped for The Hill newspaper, Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) and Scott Peters (D-CA) highlighted the “growing appetite on both sides of the aisle to address our national debt” and repeated the call for a bipartisan fiscal commission.

“In just ten years, the national debt has more than doubled. Not only is this level of debt unsustainable, but it is growing at the largest rate seen in the history of this country. $34 trillion is a staggering amount of money. To put this in context, the national debt has now exceeded $100,000 for every person in the United States. Given the imminent nature of this crisis, continuing to turn a blind eye will only put the American Dream further out of reach for our children and grandchildren.”

The Senators and congressmen correctly point out that “It is easy to point fingers, but both parties are to blame for our country’s fiscal condition. Policies enacted by both Republicans and Democrats—across presidential administrations and several congresses—have led to soaring annual budget deficits. In 2023 alone, the federal deficit totaled $1.7 trillion, more than three and half times as large as it was in 2014.”

Establishing a bipartisan fiscal commission on the debt is the right first step. But we need more than just reports and talk–we need action to stop this national security crisis from unraveling.