Families across Utah, including my own, are gearing up for another tax season and carefully reviewing our 2023 finances. As I prepare my family’s taxes each year (with the help of my favorite tax software), I think about how we spend our money, how the government spends our taxes, and how our future taxes will be affected by the federal government’s growth and out-of-control spending. Is our tax contribution valued and well spent? No. Is there a long-term plan for funding priorities? No. Does the government use our taxes responsibly to ensure a healthy fiscal future for our kids? Absolutely not.

Instead of confidence, I’m left with concern — concern over the lack of basic restraint shown by Congress for years and concern over the unwillingness of politicians to stop pointing fingers and take responsibility for finding solutions. As of March 2024, our national debt was $34.5 trillion and growing at a rate of roughly $1 trillion every hundred days. Not only is this an enormous amount of money and nearly 125% of our GDP, it is also extremely expensive to finance. Just like the credit card debt we work so hard to avoid in our families, the minimum payments have become financial quicksand for our government. As of February 2024, it costs $433 billion a year just to maintain our debt. That means that 16% of our total tax dollars in fiscal year 2024 will be used to pay the enormous interest payments on our mountain of debt. Do you wonder why we don’t have money to improve the federal highways, adequately fund the military or extend child tax credits? These are the consequences of years of overspending.

A February 2024 Gallup poll illustrates the disillusionment Americans feel towards Congress. Only 12% of Americans approve of Congress. Most of us have convincing anecdotal evidence that the approval rating is even lower! Our overwhelming disapproval is a direct result of years of bickering and inaction. The status quo is not working; it’s time for a change. For more than 25 years, experts have been sounding the alarm about the impending bankruptcy of our Social Security program and yet, Congressional leaders proudly commit to protect our seniors by doing nothing. We have a broken southern border and outdated immigration laws that don’t fully address our needs and yet Congress refuses to debate reform because it requires a willingness to put the needs of our country above their own reelection. We haven’t had immigration reform since 1986 and many in Congress are content to continue to ignore the problem.

I am running for Congress in the 3rd Congressional District to give people a real alternative. After I graduated from BYU in 2000, I went to work in the United States Senate. I started as an intern and worked my way up to be a senior legislative aide for two senators, including Sen. Bob Bennett from Utah. I know the federal legislative process and I was involved in the budget and appropriations process for years. I learned that leadership is collaboration and hard work, not political posturing and soundbites. In 2010, my husband and I moved back to Utah, where we settled in Draper and have had four children. I have spent the last 10 years as a stay-at-home parent, driving carpools and taking toddlers to PTA meetings. When inflation skyrocketed in 2022, we made cuts to our family budget to ensure we could pay for much higher grocery bills. I understand the needs of Utah families.

As a candidate for Congress, my priorities are not dictated by special interests but by the well-being of our children and future generations. We must rein in federal spending and give our children a chance at a healthy economy. There is no time to waste. I am done waiting for politicians to put the needs of our country first: I hope you are, too! It is time to elect a leader who will prioritize the needs of our families over his or her political ambitions. I am ready to be that leader for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District.

Kathryn W. Dahlin is a Republican candidate for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District. Learn more at kathryndahlin4utah.com.