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Public Statements

Balancing the Budget

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. BROOKS. I thank the gentleman from Virginia.

Mr. Speaker, America faces a financial threat of historic proportions. It has one basic cause. We suffer from unsustainable budget deficits that threaten America with insolvency and bankruptcy. We have seen what's been going on in Europe with Greece and with Paris from a few years ago, with Rome, with riots in Greece where there's even been fatalities. All of these relate to the financial stewardship of their governments.

I hope that with the remarks I'm about to share that the people of America will have a better understanding of the deficit situation we face, because given that understanding, I have confidence, Mr. Speaker, that the American people will cause Washington to do the right thing.

A little bit of history is in order. I've got a chart here, the United States annual deficits. The last balanced budget we had was $128 billion, fiscal year '01, a Democrat President, Bill Clinton, a Republican House and Republican Senate. Since that time, we've had 9/11 and we've had wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can see how the deficit situation became worse. George Bush as President and Republicans in control of Congress to $158 billion to $377 billion to $413 billion. All of those were bad, no question.

Notably, we have the Bush tax cuts in the summer of 2003; and, paradoxically, from one perspective across the aisle, things should have gotten worse, but they got better because our economy improved and our deficit declined to $318 billion to $248 billion to $161 billion. We were on the right path as of November 2006.

Then we had a different mindset capture the United States House and the United States Senate. We had a different Speaker of the House, a different majority leader in the United States Senate, and a different philosophy of government and a different economic philosophy that unfortunately has failed miserably.

As a consequence, after the November 2006 elections where the Democrats captured the United States Congress, we have a $459 billion deficit followed by a $1.4 trillion deficit. Then we have a change in the White House. For 2 years, two budgets, two sets of expenditures and two sets of revenues were totally controlled by the other party, my colleagues across the aisle. In FY10 and FY11, the fiscal year that we just finished, we had back-to-back $1.3 trillion and $1.3 trillion deficits.

Ladies and gentlemen, these deficits were bad. These are unsustainable trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, and they're a great risk to our Nation. To put it into perspective, that's $2.3 trillion in revenue last year, $3.6 trillion in expenditures, a $1.3 trillion deficit, and a $14.3 trillion accumulated debt. With what happened with the Budget Control Act in August of this year, a bill that I voted against, the debt ceiling was increased by $2.4 trillion such that it will soon hit a $16.2 trillion debt burden in 2013.

Now, I mention trillions, and people's eyes often start to glaze over, Mr. Speaker. Let me put it down in a family sense where hopefully the American people can better understand it. Think in terms of a family that's uncertain about their income. So they go over their finances, and they discover that over the last 3 years they've averaged $50,000 a year in income--not too bad. And then they look at their expenses, and they've been averaging $80,000 a year in expenses. That's scary to them, and it should be. They've been in the hole 3 straight years for $30,000 a year. Then they pick up their Visa bill, and it's for $320,000.

Now what do you think that family would do? Well, they'd cut their spending and they would try to balance their budget in order to avoid bankruptcy. Those analogies are exactly the same as that of the United States of America--those ratios.

We have to have a balanced budget constitutional amendment, I submit to the American people, Mr. Speaker, because that is the only way Washington will have the backbone to do the right thing, to protect future generations from the risk of insolvency and bankruptcy that we in America face today.

So I wholeheartedly endorse the efforts of Representative Goodlatte and all the other members of the Constitutional Caucus who have been working so hard to come forth with a substantive, effective, and enforceable constitutional amendment that can help save our children and grandchildren from the seriousness of the financial situation that we in America face today.

As for me, Mr. Speaker, I will do my utmost to support a balanced budget constitutional amendment. I will do my utmost to ensure that it is an effective constitutional amendment, that it's not a dog and pony show, that, in fact, it will achieve the desired result.

I thank the gentleman for yielding.

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