Mr. BARLETTA. Mr. Speaker, almost 7 months ago I stood in this Chamber and took the oath of office. It was one of the proudest days of my life.
Since my swearing-in, we've worked together to change the direction of this country, and we've changed it for the better. We've cut Federal spending by $361 billion. We've repealed an unpopular and unwanted government health care plan. And we've started dialing back some of the overregulation that's been slowing our economic growth.
During my short time here in Washington, I've heard some very passionate arguments, and I've seen some very heated debates. But they are nothing, Mr. Speaker, like the angry, confusing, misleading rhetoric I've heard in the last 2 weeks regarding the raising of the debt ceiling.
Some media reports around the Capitol make it seem like we will never come to an agreement. Not only are Democrats and Republicans seemingly miles apart, but it appears as if both parties have splintered internally. The bickering is dividing our government. It's dividing the American people, and it's bringing us to the brink of financial disaster.
Based on the calls my office has received over the past several days, my neighbors back in northeastern Pennsylvania want it to stop. They want a solution, and I'm sure every one of you and your neighbors back home do too.
There is no such thing as the perfect deal. There is no such thing as complete and total victory. Many of us came here opposed to raising the debt ceiling. Many of us prefer the Cut, Cap and Balance approach. Many on the other side prefer a clean debt ceiling increase with no spending cuts.
While the Budget Control Act is far from perfect, it accommodates the priorities of the people sitting on both sides of the table, both sides of the aisle, and both sides of the Capitol. If we, in this Chamber, if our friends in the other Chamber, or if the President holds out for the perfect plan, well, the United States will likely default on its obligations. As the responsible stewards of the people's government, we cannot let that happen. And I am confident that we will not let it happen.
But we need to work together. We need to trust each other. We need to realize that the perfect deal is neither possible nor practical.
We are at a critical moment in our history. This country has lived far beyond its means for far too long. The out-of-control spending has been going on in Washington for generations. Governments spent as if there were no tomorrow; and now we and our children and our grandchildren are left to pay the price.
I know the debt ceiling has been raised before, to the benefit of both Republican and Democratic administrations. Well, I wasn't there then and I didn't create this mess, but I'm sure going to clean it up, and that's why I'm here. That's why the people of northeastern Pennsylvania sent me here.
And while the thought of re-election should never, never enter anyone's mind when we're doing the people's business, let me say that this issue is far bigger than the next election. This issue is far bigger than one man or one branch of government or one political party.
How we solve this looming crisis is the defining issue of this Congress. We can either continue on the path that we've been on, a path of reckless spending, of increasing taxes, of mounting debts and deficits; or we can change our direction. We can put the brakes on the out-of-control spending. We can forge a new direction, one of fiscal responsibility, one of capped spending, one of balanced budgets.
We can send a message to the American people and to the world that the
United States is getting its fiscal house in order. And if we do that, we can bring stability to the shaky global economy. We can reassure skeptical business owners and encourage them to create jobs. And we can create a better financial future for our children and our grandchildren.
I believe our choice is clear. I ask my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, when you reach for your voting cards today, first take a glance at the pictures in your wallets, of your children and your grandchildren.
We are not Republicans; we are not Democrats. We are Americans. Today, let's put the American people first.