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Public Statements

Increasing the Statutory Limit on the Public Debt

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I was necessarily absent this morning when we considered Senator Baucus's amendment to the debt limit increase. If I had been here, I would have supported the Baucus amendment.

The Baucus amendment is clearly needed. The massive scale of other nations' accumulation of our debt has added another level of danger and complexity to our international economic relations.

This is a two-way street. The tsunami of debt created by the policies of this administration has to go somewhere. China is one of the major purchasers of that debt. Japan, Great Britain, and others have major holdings, too. In the short term, that has soaked up a lot of our bonds, and helped to keep interest rates down. That is a good thing.

However, that has kept the Chinese currency artificially low, and ours artificially high. So they can sell their products at a discount, and our exports are more expensive. That is a bad thing.

Our trade deficit was a record $726 billion last year; $202 billion of that was our trade deficit with China alone.

But as the rest of the world copes with the waves of U.S. debt, we are now all in the same leaky boat. There is just so much of our debt other nations want to hold. The more of it they accumulate, the closer we are to the day when they will not want any more.

When that happens, slowly or rapidly, our interest rates will go up, the value of their U.S. bonds will drop, and we will all have big problems. We need both more awareness, and more understanding, of this fundamental threat to our economic well being and the global economy.

But the roots of that threat lie in the disastrous policies of this administration.

Because this massive accumulation of debt was predicted, because it was foreseeable, because it was unnecessary, because it was the result of willful and reckless disregard for the warnings that were given and for the fundamentals of economic management, I am voting against the debt limit increase.

In the 5 years he has been in office, President Bush has added more to our foreign debt that the 42 Presidents before him. It took 224 years to accumulate $1 trillion of debt to other nations. It took President Bush just 5 years to more than double it.

Over $3 trillion in debt, foreign debt and debt held by Americans, has been piled up by this administration.

When he set out on the course that brought us to this sorry state, the President was clearly and repeatedly warned that massive tax cuts would leave us vulnerable to natural disasters, economic slowdown, or threats to our national security. ``Don't worry,'' the President told us. ``I know what I am doing.''

After 9/11, in the face of what he has himself called the moral equivalent of the World War II, or the Cold War, he insisted that while everything else had changed, he would not change his economic policies.

Facts had changed. His promise to balance the budget, his promise to pay down the debt, were proved to be false.

But he refused to take responsibility for his policies. He refused to admit that a changed world demanded a change of course. His refusal has pushed us deeper and deeper into the hole.

His refusal added $450 billion to the debt in 2002; it added $984 billion in 2003; it added $800 billion in 2004. And here we are again today, adding another $781 billion. With that addition, our national debt will be $8.6 trillion at the end of this year.

The President's budget plans will bring that number to $11.8 trillion at the end of the next 5 years.

This is a record of utter disregard for our Nation's financial future. It is a record of indifference to the price our children and grandchildren will pay to redeem our debt when it comes due.

History will not judge this record kindly.

My vote against the debt limit increase cannot change the fact that we have incurred this debt already, and will no doubt incur more. It is a statement that I refuse to be associated with the policies that brought us to this point.

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