Mrs. KIRKPATRICK of Arizona. Madam Speaker, on Sunday, two leading voices from both sides of the aisle outlined as clearly as ever the consequences of Washington's unrestrained spending. The cochairs of the nonpartisan Debt and Deficit Commission, former Republican Senator Alan Simpson and former Clinton administration Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles said that if the government stays on its current path, our crushing Federal debt will ``destroy the country from within.'' Bowles went on to describe it as a ``cancer'' on our Nation.
These are just the latest warnings of the disaster we face if Congress does not begin making the tough choices to restore fiscal discipline. Washington politicians have heard it from policy experts, from public servants, and, above all, from the people. When will they start to listen? How much plainer can we make the stakes? What more will it take to get the message through?
I was proud to fight for the strongest possible debt commission, and I will push Congress for an up-or-down vote on each of their recommendations. But the cochairs have already laid out what needs to be done to get our fiscal house in order, and this House must not waste any opportunity to take action.
As Members put together the appropriation bills for the next fiscal year, they should work creatively and aggressively to cut spending levels and do more with less. As I have proposed, they should start by reducing congressional pay by 5 percent. Congress needs to lead by example. Before they ask the rest of the Federal Government to make cuts, they must go on to find big and small ways to save billions of taxpayer dollars.
Paying down the debt and balancing the budget will not be easy. There will be politically unpopular decisions to be made. But as Senator Simpson and Mr. Bowles reminded us, leaving the hard calls for another day is no longer an option.