Someone recently asked me what the No. 1 national security threat is facing America today.

I probably surprised some in the audience when I responded, “The debt crisis.”

While America faces several very real existential threats in the 21st century, our ballooning debt is one impending crisis that is worse than any other threat. If not addressed, this threat is certain to bring down our great country.

The U.S. government debt stands today at $18.5 trillion – more than double what it was when Barack Obama took office in January 2009. Under a Democratic Party president and a Republican-dominated Congress, Washington sees no end in sight for its borrowing. No one has offered a plan to stop it, let alone reduce it. Borrowing and spending without limit is the new normal inside the beltway. Each year, Congress and the executive joust over raising the debt limit, rationalizing that they are really just paying last year’s bills. There’s just one problem: This exercise is completely unsustainable and will eventually, without any doubt, result in catastrophe for the U.S. government and the U.S. economy.

As president, I plan to address this on my first day in office – Jan. 20, 2017.

Here’s what I will do on Day 1.

I will tell the nation that, beginning immediately, we will no longer borrow money from future generations to sustain the growth of government or empower it over ordinary Americans.

Tell Congress and the next president: “FREEZE the Debt Limit!” with this magnetic bumper sticker

Beginning immediately, we will also end the un-American idea that we can have unlimited, unaccountable government through reckless, irresponsible and immoral borrowing against our future.

I will put Congress on notice. As president, I will not look favorably upon the idea of raising the debt limit when it comes into question. Until now, Congress and the president have been engaged in a game of chicken over every debt ceiling increase. This is a game I will not play, as I intend to shine the light on those responsible for spending the money in the first place. We will need to begin making cuts, ending programs, streamlining departments and agencies, stopping waste and eradicating spending so that Washington will live within its means just like ordinary Americans must.

I will not be waiting until a month before we reach the next food fight over the debt ceiling. I will make this announcement immediately so that we can begin planning, conferring and making intelligent decisions.

We will not allow America to default upon the loan obligations it has already incurred. I pledge to the American people that we will continue to service the debt to avoid the possibility of a lowered credit rating for the U.S. Instead, we will do what any responsible business, government or individual would do faced with overwhelming debt – stop spending and borrowing beyond our means.

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In the past, the debt ceiling drama in Washington has been a game, with the president demanding a hike in the debt ceiling and Congress demanding future spending cuts in return. Things will be different under a Carson administration.

There will be no more business as usual in Washington. I will make clear that I will not raise the debt limit unless Congress commits to a viable legislative program with defined action items for budget reform that puts this country on a path of long-term fiscal discipline.

Washington politicians must realize that the first step to getting out of a gigantic hole you’ve dug is to stop digging. I promise the American people that we will stop digging our own economic grave.

The cuts we will need to make are real. I do not minimize them. I do not apologize for them. They are necessary, and they are good for the country.

Some recent U.S. presidents have often exceeded their constitutional authority to get their way and to promote their ideological agendas. I do not intend to do this. Instead, I intend to use the authority vested in the executive branch to veto any effort to raise the debt limit unless sustainable, long-term fiscal discipline is imposed. A long history of bipartisan profligacy will end on my watch.

The debt limit represents a great opportunity for America to get back on track with responsible fiscal policies. We must seize that opportunity now – not pass it off to future generations who may not be in a position to extricate themselves from the irresponsibility and immorality of their parents and grandparents.

The time is now. Today is the day of reckoning. I ask every American to stand with me in doing what is right and necessary to save America from its greatest security threat and from the inevitability of economic catastrophe.

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