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Public Statements

Fiscal Responsibility

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. WOODALL. Madam Speaker, I thank you for the time and being down here with me. I will set up my charts tonight because I can't commit it all to memory. I'm glad to be here at the end of the leadership hour. We've talked about China, we've talked about U.S. energy, and we've talked about the big issues that are on the floor of this House and that are here in Washington, D.C.

I want to say to folks, I come from a conservative part of the world. I come from the Deep South. I come from the suburbs of Atlanta, Gwinnett County, Forsyth County, Walton County and Barrow County. But I brought with me tonight quotes from President Barrack Obama because, as I have said in town hall meeting after town hall meeting, I disagree with about 80 percent of what the President does, but I believe in about 80 percent of what he says. I think if we can come together on some of those principles that he is enunciating, we might be able to make some real progress.

This is from the President's 2011 inaugural address. He says this:

At stake right now is not who wins the next election. At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country or somewhere else.

That is absolutely true. Folks come down to the floor of this House every day. They say what they're doing, they're doing for job creation. They say what they're doing, they're doing for economic growth. But we have a substantial disagreement about what that means.

I happen to believe that one of the things that encourages job creation and economic growth is fiscal responsibility. We need fiscal responsibility in our families, we need it in our businesses, and we need it in our government.

The President said this, Madam Speaker, his State of the Union address in 2010. He said:

Families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions; the Federal Government should do the same.

State of the Union address, 2010, ``the Federal Government should do the same.''

It wasn't just in 2010. I'm not cherry-picking comments. Here we are in the President's State of the Union address in 2011, Madam Speaker:

Every day, families sacrifice to live within their means. They deserve a government that does the same.

He said it in 2010. He said it in 2011. In fact, go back to the beginning of his Presidency. Here we are in 2009, the same State of the Union address:

Given these realities, everyone in this Chamber, Democrats and Republicans, will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars, and that includes me.

Madam Speaker, he was right there in front of where you sit tonight. He said:

Given these realities, everyone in this Chamber must sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars, and that includes me.

The President of the United States.

But what's the reality, Madam Speaker? We can put the words back up. We can put the words up from 2009, from 2010, from 2011, but what's the reality? The reality, sadly, is this chart, Madam Speaker. You can't see it from where you are, but it's a chart from The Wall Street Journal, entitled, ``The Debt Boom.'' It charts the public debt of the United States from the year 2000 to the year 2012.

What we see, Madam Speaker, is that as a percent of GDP, the debt was entirely too high during the Bush years. Don't get me wrong. There is not a party in this town that is blameless in this debate. For Pete's sake, we were having economic boon times and our debt was running 35 percent of GDP. Thirty-five percent of all the economy of the United States of America was being borrowed in debt. But look what happens. Look what happens. President Obama is sworn in in January of 2009. You see a debt boom, where we rise from 35 percent of GDP as our debt level up to 80 percent of GDP as our debt level.

Now, again, I can put the words back up: ``Time for sacrifice.'' ``Families are tightening their belts, we must do the same.'' ``Everyone must sacrifice priorities, including me,'' the President of the United States. I can put the words back up. The reality, Madam Speaker, is that the President has continued to promote spending with reckless abandon.

And it's not just in the debt.

Madam Speaker, this chart is a chart produced by the Budget Committee on which I have the privilege of serving. What it charts is the debt of the United States. We see it on the white dotted line here. And it charts the proposed plan of President Barack Obama.

The President, to his credit, introduced a budget in January--the law requires him to do it and he did it. In fact, he has every year that he's been in office. The law requires the Senate to produce a budget every year. They ignore that law and have again this year for the third time in a row. But the President produced his budget.

I can, again, go back to the words where he talks about sacrifice, where he talks about tightening his belt, where he talks about what American families are doing and says America deserves a government that does the same, but look at this chart. The white dotted line represents the current debt path of America. The red line represents the President's proposal from February of this year. If you look closely, Madam Speaker, what you can see is that under the President's proposal of February of this year, enacting the President's proposal raises the deficit of the United States year after year after year after year--2012, '13, '14, '15, '16, '17, '18, '19, and '20--more than doing nothing.

Madam Speaker, you ask: How can that be true? The President's proposal includes $2 trillion in new taxes on American families. That's true. That's true. The President has made no secret of his desire to work our way through our current economic crisis by taxing the American people. I don't believe that's the right way to go, but he has introduced that as a plan. And, yes, his budget raises taxes by $2 trillion, but he spends so much more that even with a $2 trillion tax increase, Madam Speaker, we don't see any improvement in our debt in 2013 or '14 or '15 or '16 or '17 or '18 or '19 or '20 or '21.

Now, I've blown up, Madam Speaker, just so folks can see it, way out there in 2022, you finally begin to see a better debt trajectory from the President's budget than if we had done something. Nine years from now, America would have a slightly lower deficit under the President's plan than if we did nothing and just left all of our systems on autopilot. That doesn't jibe with what we heard.

Can I go back to the beginning, Madam Speaker?

At stake is not who wins the election; at stake is new jobs, new jobs that come through fiscal responsibility.

Go back to his State of the Union address:

Families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The Federal Government should do the same.

Madam Speaker, there's not one tough decision made when you tax the American people by $2 trillion but you spend even more.

I believed the President. I believed the President when he said:

Given these realities, everyone in this Chamber, Republicans and Democrats, will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars.

He was right when he said that. That was an

applause line, Madam Speaker. Folks got to their feet here in the House Chamber. He's right, that sacrifice is necessary. His budget includes none of it.

The good news, though, Madam Speaker, is we're not limited to the President's ideas in this town. We have a freshman class here in Washington, D.C., Madam Speaker, of which you are a critical part, that says we can do better; in fact, we must do better; in fact, we cannot take ``no'' for an answer.

Let me show you what I have here, Madam Speaker. It's a chart of discretionary appropriations. Now, discretionary appropriations, for folks who are in the freshman class who haven't followed that back in their offices, that's the part that we have to affirmatively act on every year.

About two-thirds of the Federal budget is on autopilot. If we closed the doors of Congress tomorrow, that money would continue to flow out the door, but not so with one-third of the Federal budget. We call that discretionary spending. You and I, Madam Speaker, we have responsibility to do oversight on that every year.

Look what we see here. FY 2010--that's the first year I've charted--we spent about $1.3 trillion in this discretionary spending. That was 2010. You and I were not yet here, Madam Speaker. You and I showed up while we were still working on the FY 2011 budget. You will see we spent less in this Congress--and I don't just mean we proposed spending less. I don't just mean we talked about spending less. I don't mean that we got together as Republicans and said this is our idea, but we're not going to be able to get the Democrats to go along with it. I mean, as a body in this House, as a Congress on Capitol Hill, with the cooperation of the President's signature, we actually passed into law a budget for discretionary spending that went down in 2011 from 2010 levels.

And guess what? We didn't stop there, Madam Speaker. As you know, we passed another set of appropriations bills that took spending down even further. From 2011 levels, we went down further in 2012. And guess what? This freshman class, we're not done yet. This House leadership, they're not done yet. For 2013, we are on track to reduce spending--I don't mean reduce rates of growth. I don't mean reduce projected increases. I mean reduce the actual dollars going out the door for a third year in a row. The third year in a row. It's unprecedented. It hadn't happened since World War II. It's happened because the American people said we have to do better. It happened because the American people said we can't just talk about it; we have to do it.

But I've got some bad news, Madam Speaker. We're going to keep working on this discretionary spending side of the ledger. We're going to keep trying to drive those numbers down. But that's not where the real spending is. As I said a few minutes ago, that's only one-third of the budget. Two-thirds of the budget is on autopilot.

I have it up here, Madam Speaker. In yellow, you see what they call mandatory spending. That's the autopilot money. Again, you could close the White House tomorrow, you could close the Congress tomorrow, this money still flows out the door. If we're going to stop it, we have to act affirmatively to stop it.

This little piece of the pie up here is the defense part. You would think that national security is one of the biggest things we spend money on around here. Madam Speaker, it's down to less than 20 percent of the money that goes out the door in Washington, D.C. goes towards national security. This 17 percent here is everything else, everything else that's in that discretionary budget. The 63 percent, 64 percent, so says the Congressional Budget Office, this is the mandatory spending that's on autopilot.

I have it displayed here in a slightly different way. The red bar represents our discretionary spending. And you can see that discretionary spending, as a percentage of the budget, has been in decline each and every year since 1962. Now, those aren't actual dollars going down, that's just a share of what we do in Washington, D.C. It's been this Congress that's brought the actual dollars down, as I said, for the first time since World War II.

But over time we've had a shift in this country. Discretionary spending has declined as a percentage of what we do, and this out-of-control mandatory spending, this autopilot spending is increasing. What are we going to do about that?

There's not enough time tonight, Madam Speaker, to get into the details. But I encourage all of our colleagues, Madam Speaker, and I hope you will help me to encourage them, to keep an eye out on what's coming down the road, because what's coming down the road in this body is a process called reconciliation. And I put to you that we haven't had a real reconciliation process in this House. In 1997, Republicans in the House and Senate, and a Democrat in the White House, came together to pass the biggest spending reduction bill that we'd had in our lifetime prior to this point.

We can't balance the budget on the discretionary spending side of the ledger alone. As you know, Madam Speaker, if we zeroed out everything--and I mean everything. I don't mean cut by 5 percent, I don't mean cut by 10 percent, I mean zeroed out everything except Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, interest on the national debt, those mandatory spending programs that I'm talking about, those autopilot programs, if we zeroed out everything else, the budget still wouldn't be balanced. That's how far out of whack we are. And that's how big those categories are.

We're going to do something that hasn't been done since 1997 and that is, go through reconciliation, where we ask the committees of this House, we go back to our communities and ask in town hall meetings, what can we do on that mandatory spending side of the ledger to tighten our belts, to do better to provide more bang for their buck to the American taxpayers.

Those bills are going to start coming to the floor in the month of May, for the first time since 1997, in a serious way. Now, it's going to be a small process at first. We're talking about just the amount of money to cover some of our necessary defense spending needs. But we're going to start to talk about priorities here. And when I say talk about, I mean legislate on.

Madam Speaker, the talking has already been done. ``Every day families sacrifice to live within their means. They deserve a government that does the same.'' President Barack Obama, 2011.

``Families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The Federal Government should do the same.'' President Obama 2010.

At stake right now is not who wins the election. At stake is whether new jobs and industry take root in this country or not. Madam Speaker, we are bankrupting this country. We are bankrupting this country. We have doubled, doubled the annual spending deficits that we've seen in this country. We've seen the public debt of this Nation increase by 50 percent in the last 3 1/2 years. And that was with the efforts of the most conservative U.S. House of Representatives we've seen in our lifetime. That was with the efforts of this U.S. House of Representatives that has cut spending, not 1 year in a row, not 2 years in a row, but 3 years in a row.

Madam Speaker, the good ship United States of America is in troubled waters. The President is saying all the right things. I come to the floor here tonight, Madam Speaker, to ask you to encourage him to do the right things. Join this U.S. House of Representatives, join these 100 new Democrat and freshman Members in this body as we try to do something that hasn't been done since 1997, and that's take programs off of autopilot and make sure that every dollar leaving this institution is doing the very best that it can for the hardworking American taxpayers that have entrusted us to spend it.

Madam Speaker, I thank you for being here and yielding me this time this evening.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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