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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the Budget Control Act and urge its adoption.
America pays its bills. Default on those obligations, by not raising the debt limit, would be dangerously irresponsible.
However, the $14.3 trillion national debt is utterly unsustainable. Consider the fact that total government spending at all levels has risen to 37% of gross domestic product today from 27% in 1960--and is set to reach 50% by 2038. Today, our national debt has reached 100% of the size of our economy, up from 42% in 1980.
These are trends that, left unchecked, will saddle future generations with burdensome debt and a lack of jobs and opportunities. In this regard, our efforts this week to raise the debt ceiling while firmly addressing the debt crisis is as much a moral as an economic decision.
Over the past several months, we have told the President that we will not support his request to increase the debt limit without serious spending cuts, binding budget reforms and we will not support higher taxes on families and small businesses we are counting on to create jobs.
Last week, I supported the "Cut, Cap and Balance Act,'' legislation designed to immediately cut federal spending to 2008 levels, before all the "bailouts'' and the failed "stimulus'' bills. That measure also sought to put the federal budget on a glide path to spending no more than 20 percent of our economy and requires that Congress pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.
Unfortunately, the same Senate Leadership that has not proposed a budget in over two years, will now not even allow a debate on this common-sense bill.
Today, the House considers the Budget Control Act. While far from perfect, this measure finally begins to turn back the tide of federal red ink in several important ways:
It cuts spending by $917 billion and does not raise taxes that would fuel additional spending. That is a vast improvement over current law.
It keeps the pressure on the President and Congress to cut spending further by providing another opportunity later this year to debate and keeping the pressure on to cut spending.
It creates a process that keeps our underlying fiscal policy problems front-and-center for the foreseeable future rather than ignoring them until 2013.
Contrary to some published reports, the bill contains serious reductions. This legislation cuts $22 billion in FY 2012 and $42 billion in FY 2013. Yes, these are still small numbers when placed in the context of overall federal spending. One reason is that the 2012 and 2013 budgets are the only ones that will actually be under the control of this 112th Congress. But even more important is the greater reduction in the budget glide path that will be used in future years. In the years beyond the 112th Congress, the budget savings multiply.
I would add that the Budget Control Act also keeps the focus on cutting spending, requiring a plan by December that cuts at least $1.8 trillion more.
It is important to note that the debt fight we're engaged in today has set an important precedent. From now on, increases in the debt ceiling will need to be accompanied by equivalent or greater cuts in spending.
On this point, I would remind everyone of the words the President uttered just days ago in the White House briefing room. When asked about the current debt negotiations, he said, `I don't want to be here doing this. I'd rather be here talking about new programs......'
`New programs'? Translated: `new spending.' Clearly, the President has not listened to the American people.
That is why it is so important to prevent him and his Congressional allies from finding new ways to spend the taxpayers' money. This bill locks in spending cuts for the future.
Of course, the next logical step is to enact permanent budget reforms like a Balanced Budget Amendment to our Constitution. I voted for a balanced budget amendment over ten years ago and I voted for the "Cut, Cap and Balance'' bill last week. I look forward to voting for another balanced budget amendment in coming days and would urge my colleagues to give the American people the opportunity to weigh in on this common-sense reform.
Some well-meaning Americans have opposed the bill because they think it does not cut enough. While $900 billion+ of spending cuts is a genuine deficit reduction, I completely agree that it is far from sufficient to solve our underlying budget problems. In that respect, this House bill is a step in the right direction, nothing more.
Mr. Speaker, I want deeper spending cuts and greater deficit and debt reduction. However, given the stubborn insistence of the President and his Congressional allies on a debt limit increase coupled with new taxes and still more spending, I cannot see how we achieve greater savings at this time.