Mr. BROOKS. Mr. Speaker, I have voted to raise the debt ceiling where the bill makes America's financial condition better, not worse.
In my judgment, both the Reid and Boehner plans fail to adequately address unsustainable deficits that threaten America with insolvency and bankruptcy. Both plans push the debt ceiling issue to 2012 or 2013, at which time a financially weaker America will confront a worse debt ceiling crisis. Both plans simply are not up to the seriousness of the financial challenges America faces.
Washington must put 2012 election considerations aside and put America's interests first and foremost, now. Congress and the White House can and must do better, now. America deserves better, now. And quite frankly, we have no choice but to do better, now.
Years of spending binges by the Federal Government have come home to roost. America's debt exceeds $14 trillion. America has suffered 3 consecutive years of trillion-dollar deficits and faces trillion-dollar deficits into the foreseeable future. Annual deficits and accumulated debt force America to confront two major financial threats, both with one common cause: unsustainable budget deficits.
In the short term, America faces a debt ceiling crisis. If the debt ceiling is not raised, economic hardship will ensue, unemployment rates will rise, and America's gross domestic product will decline. Over a longer term, however, America faces a larger, more serious debt crisis. If trillion-dollar deficits continue to run rampant, America's insolvency and bankruptcy is certain, which risks America's national defense capabilities, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, NASA, and everything else that the government provides.
The question is not whether Congress will raise the debt ceiling; the question is when and how. I have already voted to raise the debt ceiling $2.4 trillion as part of the Cut, Cap, and Balance bill. We're cutting FY12 expenditures by a modest $111 billion in the context of a $1.5 trillion deficit, capping Federal Government expenditures within historically justifiable 18 to 24 percent ranges, and passing a balanced budget constitutional amendment that protects future generations of Americans from the financial mess we now face.
I am prepared to vote to raise the debt ceiling again, so long as Congress substantively addresses our underlying deficit problem while protecting our fragile economy and jobs market. As best I can with the limited and changing information available, I have examined both the Boehner and Reid plans. While they differ in many respects, they also share common concepts:
Neither plan purports to immediately raise taxes. Neither plan cuts spending in FY 2012 or 2013 by as much as 5 percent of this year's $1.5 trillion deficit. Neither plan eliminates annual trillion-dollar deficits in the foreseeable future. Both plans raise the debt ceiling by at least $1 trillion and as much as $2.7 trillion. Both plans kick the can down the road and force America to revisit the debt ceiling crisis in either 2012 or 2013, at which time America's debt burden will be much higher and America will be that much weaker. Neither plan heeds Standard and Poor's or Moody's credit downgrade warnings. Neither plan cuts America's short- or long-term deficits enough to minimize the risk of downgrade in America's credit rating, a downgrade that will drive up America's debt service cost and cut funding for all other Federal Government programs. To make matters worse, if America's interest rates go up, State and local private interest rates are likely to also go up, thereby hurting Americans at all levels.
There is only one reliable solution that I can discern that protects America from both financial threats: a debt ceiling increase coupled with a balanced budget constitutional amendment that is phased in over a 5-year period of time.
In as much as constitutional amendments often take years to pass, time that America does not have, the first step must be to raise the debt ceiling when Congress passes a substantive balanced budget constitutional amendment. If the Senate and House concur, this can be done in as little as a week.
The second step, equally important, raises the rest of the debt ceiling when the States ratify the proposed balanced budget amendment, thus giving States a needed incentive to ratify the balanced budget amendment in less than 1 year.
This approach solves both financial threats.
Quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, I pray that Washington has the strength to do what it must before it is too late. America is on the verge of a downward spiral. We must act now, and we must act in substantive ways.