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Mr. ANDREWS. I thank my friend for yielding.
A tired old tradition is being carried out on the House floor today. When it comes time to extend the national debt ceiling, the Members in the minority get up and express outrage, and enough Members in the majority get up and show responsibility and vote to do what needs to be done to pay the Nation's bills.
Madam Speaker, I know a lot of people watching this are scratching their heads and saying, how did we get to such a terrible predicament? Whose fault is it? And I think they're tired of hearing whose fault it is because, frankly, when the other side is in the majority, we say it's their fault; when they're in the minority, they say it's our fault.
I think a history lesson is in order. In 2001, as Mr. Tanner said, we were looking at a projected $5 trillion surplus over the decade that we're now closing out. We're going to take in $5 trillion more than we spent. There were three things that happened in that decade that injured that prospect. The first was horrific, unavoidable, and the fault of no one in this room; it was the terrorist attack on the country on September 11, 2001, which had and still has negative economic consequences as well as security consequences for the country.
The second thing that happened, in my view, is that two disastrous choices were made. The first was to launch two wars by borrowing the money to pay for those wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan. We certainly can disagree--and we have around here a lot--as to whether or not those wars were or were not in the national interest, but I think we should have understood that it was absolutely not in the national interest to defy historic tradition and finance those wars by borrowing money, unlike more responsible predecessors of ours had done in other times.
The second disastrous decision was a tax cut, a huge majority of which benefited the wealthiest 5 or 10 percent of people in this country. That created a mountain of debt that shifted us from a projected $5 trillion surplus to a projected deficit instead.
Then followed the financial meltdown of the fall of 2008. The Treasury Secretary told us in no uncertain terms that he felt that we were perhaps a few days away from the collapse of the global economy. So to this floor came a $700 billion bailout bill for the banking industry, and a lot of Members on both sides voted for it. I think it was the right vote because I do think it staved off that calamity from happening, and that added to the national debt. And yes, there were decisions made since the new administration came in to do the stimulus bill in a way that was not paid for.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.
Mr. NEAL of Massachusetts. Madam Speaker, I yield the gentleman from New Jersey 1 additional minute.
Mr. ANDREWS. And I know there is disagreement over whether that was the right thing to do. I think it was absolutely the right thing to do because it stimulated between 600,000 and 1.6 million jobs thus far being saved or created.
Let me say this to you: irrespective of how you recount the history as to how we got here, here we are. And to deal with this problem it seems to me there are three inescapable things we have to do. The first is to get entitlement spending under control. Frankly, our side believes the health care reform bill does exactly that, and the Congressional Budget Office would concur--nearly $500 billion in entitlement reductions over a 10-year period. Second, you have to get revenue back on track. Our budget calls for a repeal of the tax reductions for those that are in the top 5 percent or so of the country. I think that is the responsible thing to do. No one on the other side voted for that. And finally, we have to stop spending $300 or $400 billion a year to buy oil from other parts of the world. We had legislation here that would put us on that path and build American jobs. Almost no one--single digits--on the other side voted for that.
So this is the day when the minority expresses outrage. There ought to be some other days when the minority expresses some ideas, some plans on how to fix the problem.
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