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Public Statements

Cut, Cap, and Balance Act of 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CHAFFETZ. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, today is an historic today. We have an opportunity in this body to send a strong signal to the country that we're going to live within our means. At the heart of this discussion is a discussion about whether or not our country is going to live within its means.

What we ask for at the heart of this proposal is that we balance our budget. It's something that families do. It's something that businesses do. A balanced budget amendment is something that 49 States across the country have.

Unfortunately, in Congresses past, Presidents past, we have not lived within our means. I have heard the argument that says, Oh, we don't need a constitutional amendment; we just need to do our job.

Madam Speaker, we find this Nation more than $14 trillion in debt. We're paying more than $600 million a day in interest on that debt. Now imagine, imagine the United States of America without that debt. We don't get anything for that $600 million. But it's an obligation. We need to live up to those obligations.

What this bill says is very simple:

We're going to cut. We're going to make an immediate cut to some spending, a paltry $111 billion in the first year. Number two, we're going to cap as a percentage of our gross domestic product the amount of money that we're going to spend going forward so that there are targets in place for future Congresses to consider and weigh and make the good decisions that need to be made. How are we going to prioritize things? And, number three, we are going to seek to have a balanced budget amendment come to the floor of the House, come to the Senate, and pass both bodies.

If we can make that historic move and pass to the States a balanced budget amendment, then we will solve the underlying challenge that faces this country: We are spending too much money. I think everybody understands that. But the question is: Are we really going to do something about it?

The question for the President, the question for this body moving forward, is: Do we have the fortitude to actually put before the States an amendment? That's all we ask. Can the States have a say in this?

To my Senate colleagues, Madam Speaker, I would encourage them, they are to represent the States. What are they afraid of if they won't send a balanced budget amendment forward for their ratification?

We have to change the way we do business in Washington, D.C. America gets it. America understands it. But this body, in its history, has not lived up to that call. The future of our Nation depends upon it.

There is going to be all kinds of rhetoric about how we're cutting Medicare. It's not true. It simply says we're going to have to put ourselves on a glide path to get some fiscal sanity back here.

Now, there is a timetable that is before us. We're going to run out of money. We're spending money we don't have. But there is a timetable before us. And so in just 2 weeks, we're going to come upon this deadline. This is a real plan that can solve the problem and something that should be widely embraced on both sides of the aisle.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. CHAFFETZ. For 2 years under Barack Obama, the Democrats had the House and Senate and the Presidency, you didn't do a thing to touch those so-called ``loopholes.'' To try to feign how exasperated you are at this point is somewhat disingenuous to somebody who sat here for 2 years with you having the House, the Senate, and the Presidency and doing nothing about it.

What we're fighting for is more taxpayers, not more taxes. When the President said he was going to veto this bill, it provided a whole lot of clarity to a guy like me. Because if we can't find common ground on balancing the budget--how dare we offer that we want to balance the budget? That's all we ask for in this country, is put us on a trajectory to balance the budget.

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Mr. CHAFFETZ. Madam Speaker, the only thing Cut, Cap, and Balance is bad for is for Members of Congress because we are going to actually rein in spending. They're actually going to have to live within a balanced budget.

I would also highlight rule XXI, section 5(b). I have heard a lot of rhetoric in the news and other places about how there is going to be such a higher standard. It should be noted that the passage of a tax rate increase, a bill or joint resolution, amendment, or conference report carrying a Federal income tax rate increase may not be considered as passed or agreed to unless so determined by a vote of not less than three-fifths of the Members voting.

It was that same standard and threshold when Nancy Pelosi was the Speaker of the House as it is today, so we have had that higher standard for raising taxes. That is nothing new.

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Mr. CHAFFETZ. Routinely, the other side of the aisle, Mr. Speaker, has made the allegation that the President has offered a balanced plan. I would argue that he has offered neither. The President has never introduced a balanced plan. He's never had anything that's in balance. In fact, the budget that he submitted never balances. In fact, it doubles and then triples the debt. It went before the United States Senate, and 97-0 that budget was rejected, rejected by the United States Senate. So to suggest that he's offered something in balance is not true.

The second part of this, he has not introduced a plan to deal with this crisis that we're in. There is no piece of paper. There's lots of speeches. There are lots of things like going out and doing press conferences. But we need a solution.

What cut, cap, and balance does is it not only solves the short-term problem--it starts to put us in the right pathway--but it actually sends it to the States. And, ladies and gentlemen, what should we be afraid of? All we're asking to do is put forward a balanced budget amendment and send it to the State with a very high threshold, where three out of four States would have to ratify it in order for it to become an amendment to the Constitution.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. CHAFFETZ. Routinely, the other side of the aisle, Mr. Speaker, has made the allegation that the President has offered a balanced plan. I would argue that he has offered neither. The President has never introduced a balanced plan. He's never had anything that's in balance. In fact, the budget that he submitted never balances. In fact, it doubles and then triples the debt. It went before the United States Senate, and 97-0 that budget was rejected, rejected by the United States Senate. So to suggest that he's offered something in balance is not true.

The second part of this, he has not introduced a plan to deal with this crisis that we're in. There is no piece of paper. There's lots of speeches. There are lots of things like going out and doing press conferences. But we need a solution.

What cut, cap, and balance does is it not only solves the short-term problem--it starts to put us in the right pathway--but it actually sends it to the States. And, ladies and gentlemen, what should we be afraid of? All we're asking to do is put forward a balanced budget amendment and send it to the State with a very high threshold, where three out of four States would have to ratify it in order for it to become an amendment to the Constitution.

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