THE NATIONAL DEBT -- (House of Representatives - November 16, 2005)
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Mr. CHANDLER. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Ross for yielding to me. I appreciate my fellow Blue Dog from Arkansas putting this very important time together for us to talk to the country about what we all believe is a very important matter.
Mr. Ross's grandparents, I am sure, just the same as my grandparents, grew up in the Great Depression. And I am sure that they had experiences very similar to mine, and those experiences instilled in them a great sense of fiscal responsibility. My grandfather, in fact, always used to tell me, and I cannot even count the times that he told me, ``If you spent more than you took in, you would go broke.'' Wise words. Too bad that the leadership of the Republican-controlled Congress seems to have forgotten this most basic rule of fiscal management. By all accounts, the mentality of our grandparents and their generation has been lost.
As the gentleman said, later this week, maybe as early as tomorrow, the House will consider the first of two bills the Republican leadership will bring to the floor under the auspices of reducing the deficit. The only problem is that this so-called deficit reduction package actually adds billions to the deficit, hastening a fiscal crisis brought on by the systematic mismanagement of our country's finances.
Our deficit has now passed $8 trillion, and we see right there on that sign that the gentleman has got next to him, that poster, the number 8 trillion. I am surprised we can even breathe a number that big, all those zeros. I did not even know what 8 trillion was until I came up to Congress and I saw that number. And I am sure the American people would be astonished if they realized just how much in debt they were now. And, incredibly, something I heard from the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Tanner), who I think is with us tonight, earlier this week he told me that this administration has now borrowed more money from foreign governments and banks than the previous 42 United States Presidents combined. Even using the projections from the budgets adopted by this Republican-controlled Congress, the deficit will grow by over $167 billion over the next 5 years. Bottom line, this Republican-controlled Congress has proven itself utterly incapable of responsibly managing the Federal Treasury.
Rather than use what little funds we have to pay down the deficit and help those in need, many of my Republican colleagues seek another round of tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans that will drive our country even deeper into debt. This budget package that is being offered is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. It is not about making sacrifices to reduce the deficit. It is about carving out space for ever-larger tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans by cutting programs that help seniors, students, and low-income families. The very principles that our men and women are fighting for in Iraq and Afghanistan, defending the ideals of our country and helping those in need are on the chopping block this week.
The message from the Republican-controlled Congress is clear: under our leadership the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle class shrinks all the while.
Low-income families in my home State of Kentucky depend on Medicaid for health care. Thousands of children in Kentucky schools depend on school lunch programs for their only hot meal of the day.
And over 50 percent of college students in Kentucky rely on some type of financial aid to pay for their college expenses. It is simply immoral to turn our backs on those families in need and students striving to get ahead. Not to mention the cuts to child support programs that will hurt families across our country, and the fact that at a time when the USDA must turn away three-fourths of farmers wanting to participate in conservation programs, cutting Federal funds is going to put an even larger strain on our farm families, certainly the farm families in Kentucky who are doing everything they can just to make a living.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to oppose this misguided and immoral budget reconciliation package and instead use this as an opportunity to step back and examine the financial state of our country. Instead of leaning on the poor as a means of cutting taxes for the rich, we need to get serious about addressing the deficit.
Foreign lenders such as China own 40 percent of our total debt. At some point, America must pay back the money it owes. The Republican leaders on the other side of the aisle pride themselves in cutting taxes for the American people. But their irresponsible budget practices now are nothing more than a tax increase later. Continuing to make irresponsible financial decisions now only adds to the burden we are leaving to the coming generations.
This Congress must take immediate action to put our fiscal house in order, and I commend you, Mr. Ross, and I commend the other Blue Dogs for your steadfast efforts to ensure that the American people understand what is happening to them and the fact that their fiscal house is not in order. You are doing a great service for this country, and I urge my colleagues to join with the Blue Dogs and examine the budget reforms that we have proposed.
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