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Public Statements

The Budget

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. RISCH. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Missouri. Like everyone, I have been perusing the numbers

to try to figure out whether this gets us somewhere and whether it will actually come to fruition.

A quick look at history. As the Senator points out, this will be the fourth year, if we don't adopt a budget, where we haven't had one. There isn't an entity in the world that operates without a budget. We have to have a budget if we are going to do anything responsibly. Budgeting is not that difficult; it is merely a way of taking the money we have coming in and allocating it on a priority basis for what we think money should be spent for. There is never enough money. There isn't an enterprise in the world that has enough money. Everyone has to make decisions as to what are the priorities and do the best they can with the money they have.
As I said, over 1,000 days have passed since the Senate has adopted a budget. Last year, a similar budget the President produced was actually put on the floor here of the Senate for a vote. It failed, with zero ``yea'' votes to 97 ``no'' votes. That is not a party-line vote.

This budget, one can only conclude, just like the budget produced by the President last year, spends too much, taxes too much, and it borrows too much.

The budgeting process is something that is extremely important. The American people demand it. Common sense demands it. Anyone who has ever operated a government or a business enterprise knows we must budget. Every Governor in the United States does it--all 50 States. Every legislature does it. As was pointed out by Senator Johanns, when he was Governor he had to cut 7 percent.

Let me tell my colleagues about the state of play in Idaho. When I was Governor, the budget was $3.5 billion when I left. The current Governor is operating with a $2.5 billion budget. He cut $1 billion out of a $3.5 billion budget. If it can be done at the State level, it can be done at the national level, and, indeed, it has to be done at the national level. We are going to have to cut.

The proposed budget spends about $10.4 billion every day, and I put it on a daily basis because when we start talking about trillions, people's eyes glaze over. There is no possible way--there is no human being on the face of this planet who can determine what $1 trillion is, let alone the $3.8 trillion this budget spends. But if we put it on a daily basis, it is $10.4 billion every day. Remember, in the State of Idaho, for a year, the State spends $2.5 billion. This government spends $10.4 billion every day. That comes down to about $7.2 million every minute.

One wouldn't have a whole lot of argument about that if indeed the government had $10.4 billion to spend every day or $7.2 million to spend every minute. But, indeed, every day, under this budget, the Federal Government will borrow $2.4 billion--every single day. The borrowing comes down to about $1.7 million every minute.

When we put it in terms of how much it is a day and how much it is a minute, it becomes staggering. Right now, because we have been dealing with this, every time I see nationally a business engaged in a huge deal at $5 billion or something such as that, we can put it in perspective of how the Federal Government is doing its business. This borrowing that is being done every day by the Federal Government has yielded us now a $15 trillion debt. Again, I don't know what that is; nobody knows what that is. But what I do know is we will never pay it off in our lifetime. It will be our kids and our grandkids who are saddled with that particular amount. That is the real deal.

I wish everybody could have the experience I had, and a number of Senators have done this. Every day, the Federal Government has to pay its bills at the end of the day. They are not like businesses; they don't pay every month. They pay at the end of the day. How do they do this? When I first got here, I thought: This is staggering, and what have you. But I went and watched them do it. The Treasury has a checkbook, like everyone else does, and at the end of the day it has a balance, like everybody else. How does it balance it? It balances it by going out and borrowing the money. I watched them borrow. This is indeed borrowing. About a fourth of it comes from China, about a fourth comes from other countries, and about half comes from wealthy institutions including banks and trusts and individuals around the world. But it is real borrowing and it has to be paid back. Indeed, they not only borrow the amount of money they need every day for the daily deficit, but they borrow enough money to pay back the people whose debts are coming due that day.

After you walk out of there and watch them actually do that, you can't help but walk away from it feeling sick. Because when we look at these kinds of numbers, the government can't pay its bills at the end of the day. The only way it can pay its bills is if it borrows.

We need systemic change. Everything has to be reformed. If I were in charge of everything, the first thing I would reform is this ridiculous idea that we budget on a 10-year basis.

That is outrageous.

Mr. President, 10-year budgeting allows smoke and mirrors and allows gimmicks and games so you can stand up and say: Why, this budget saves $4 trillion. It does not save a dime next year. All this alleged savings is 10 years out, and, indeed, on this 10-year cycle they use to budget, the second year never comes.

We need an annual budget. We need to look in the mirror and talk about how much we are spending next year versus how much is coming in. Forget this 10-year basis. It is absolute nonsense.

Senator Blunt talked about Greece. Greece is going through what we are going to have to go through at some time; that is, cutting back. They lived happy for decades. Well, they spent their children's and their grandchildren's money, and all of a sudden what happened to them? Nobody would loan them money anymore. If that happens to us, we are out of business. If nobody will loan us any money on a daily basis, we are out of business.

So what do we need? We need compromise. It is compromise that got us into the position we are in. Compromise every year caused us to take each budget item, where the Democrats wanted to spend more, the Republicans wanted to spend less, so they compromised somewhere in the middle. Now we are operating, even under this budget, at a trillion-dollar deficit for the year.

It is time to compromise again. But we need to go in the other direction. We need to compromise on: How much are we going to cut this year? The Republicans are going to want to cut more. The Democrats, I hope, will agree that we need to do some cutting and we need to wind up somewhere in the middle. That is the only way we are going to get this back on track. This budget does not cut it. This budget does not even come close to it. We are going to bankrupt America if we do not start doing things differently.

I see Senator Isakson has joined us on the floor.

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Mr. RISCH. First of all, one of the things people have to accept--and it does not happen around here--is we do not have an income problem. We have a spending problem. All the money in the world would not get us to where you are able to solve every problem that comes down the pike and people want to resolve.

The President is urging that somebody is not paying their fair share. I wish he would hang more details on that. I wish some media person would ask him: Identify these groups for us, please. I think he is trying to create a national dialog as to who is or who is not paying their fair share. I think that might be appropriate.

I think when the American people started on this, they took the numbers and said: OK, if you take the first half of income earners from the lowest to the median, they are paying zero percent in taxes; the top 10 percent is paying 70 percent of all the money the government takes in, so let's have a dialog as to which of those two groups is paying their fair share.

There are some very good sociological reasons why the upper income pays more than the lower income, and I do not think anyone is going to argue with that.

But there is only so much we can do. I am not here defending the rich. The rich take care of themselves. They can move their capital wherever they want to move it. Indeed, we all know a good deal of it is moved offshore. There is $2 trillion offshore right now that Americans--American businesses--want to bring back, but they will not bring it back because there is a war on capital in this country with the government trying to take the capital. We need to have a national dialogue about that. We need to land in the middle someplace.

Again, no one is going to defend the rich. They do not have to; the rich can take care of themselves. But the fact is, we have to come to the conclusion at some point that the resources of the American people are finite. Be it the rich, be it the poor, be it the middle class, their ability to pay for government is finite. There is a point at which we have to say wait instead of saying we are going to bring in more. We have to say we are going to have to prioritize the money we have and how we are going to spend it.

I think that is the way we get out of this situation, having an acceptance that there is a finite amount of money. It is too easy for us to borrow money. We have seen that in our own lives. We have seen friends of ours who have gone down to the bank and borrowed money. If the money is too easy to borrow, they get into trouble, and they get into trouble relatively quickly.

Well, we have gotten into trouble because it is so easy for us to borrow. People still want to loan us money. People are still loaning us money every day. They lend us billions and billions. Indeed, if they did not, we would be out of business. So it is time for this national dialogue on where we are going to go.

As I said, the only way this is going to be resolved is if we compromise. Instead of talking about how much more we are going to spend, we need to do something we have not done since World War II; that is, compromise on how much we are going to cut.

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