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I very much appreciate my colleague, the chairman, for yielding.
Mr. Chairman, some of my colleagues say they are shocked at the spending reductions we have proposed here. No one should be surprised. For the past several years, Congress and the administration have been spending like there is no tomorrow.
Since FY '08, we have increased non-security discretionary spending by almost 25 percent. In some areas, it has jumped by nearly a third in 2 years. Those were historic spending increases, and they don't even include the $800 billion that was in the massive failed stimulus package. That was such a huge amount of money that some agencies still have not been able to spend it 2 years later.
Well, my colleagues, tomorrow is here. The bill is coming due; and if we do not find a way to stop spending, we are headed towards fiscal disaster.
This absolutely should surprise no one. Republicans on the Appropriations Committee have been warning for 2 years that we cannot continue spending this way. We tried to stop it, to at least slow it down; but for the past 2 years we have not even been able to get an amendment to change the direction of our spendthrift ways.
So now we are faced with record deficits. The President's budget predicts an all-time high of $1.65 trillion in red ink next year. We have been warned that the Federal debt limit of $14 trillion must be increased. Within a decade, our Federal debt could equal more than 70 percent of our GDP.
Without question, this kind of spending is going to run our Federal budget off a cliff, and it will do more harm to our economy than we've seen from the current terrible recession. At least a third of our national debt is owned by foreign nations and investors. What will they do if we cannot begin to pay it down?
Last year, we paid nearly $415 billion in interest on our national debt. That is more than we spent on any discretionary government program other than defense. That is hundreds of billions of dollars not being spent to create jobs, not being spent to fix our roads, not being spent to secure our Nation; and it will continue to grow at an ever faster rate as long as we keep running up these huge deficits.
The American people told us last November that it is time to stop. They were alarmed enough to raise questions all over the country. They, indeed, at the polls indicated that we needed to find a new direction. They want fiscal sanity. They want us to stop spending now before it is too late. The spending reductions in this package are extremely painful. The cuts will affect programs supported by every Member of this House. When Americans begin to understand what is being reduced, we will all be receiving calls from people who are asking us to change our minds.
We must resist these calls for more spending. We cannot become Europe, where citizens believe that government can do everything. We cannot let the United States become another Greece or another Ireland or another Portugal--faced with fiscal collapse.
We have to make the decision now. These cuts will seem harsh, but we cannot avoid them. We cannot settle for half measures in the hopes that in 5 or 10 years we will stop adding to this terrible Federal debt. This is just the down payment. We need to begin entitlement reform to really solve our fiscal problems, but we must start now and we must start here.
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