Keller, lawmakers write Biden urging action on record national debt

February 12, 2021
In The News

The coronavirus pandemic has driven the national debt to record highs. Now, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is calling on President Joe Biden to act.


Data from the U.S. Treasury Department Thursday shows the national debt is $27.8 trillion. That total has surged during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, after Congress authorized more than $4 trillion in overall support, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.


“Although it’s necessary, I believe, that doesn’t mean debt and deficits don’t matter,” said Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii), a co-chair of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of fiscally conservative to moderate House Democrats. “In fact, they matter far more than they ever did.”

That’s why Case – a Democrat – and 33 House members sent a letter to Biden last week, urging him to reconvene the 1980s “Grace Commission.” The Commission was a group led by the private sector that worked to streamline government and cut wasteful spending during the Reagan administration. Ultimately, according to the letter, the Grace Commission saved nearly a half trillion dollars at the time.


The renewed push comes as Congress considers Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.


“I don’t think you can say that you’re going to throw $6 trillion at COVID-19 and all of it is automatically going to be an efficient expenditure of monies,” said Case, one of two Democrats who signed the letter.


The new, would-be commission’s report with recommendations would then be sent to Congress and the White House to review.


Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) is the top Republican on this latest effort.


“The American public should see where the money is being spent because it’s their money,” Bergman said.


These lawmakers say the national debt is as big of a threat to the future of the country as COVID is right now.


“1.9 trillion and all of these policies, it’s not our money,” said Rep. Fred Keller (R-Pa.), who co-signed the letter. “It’s our kids’ money, it’s our grandkids’ money.”