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Mr. PAUL. Madam President, we are currently borrowing $50,000 a second. We borrow $4 billion a day, and we are borrowing over $1 trillion every year.
The situation has gotten out of control, and I think the situation of our deficit and our country threatens our country. In fact, I think it is the No. 1 threat to our national security, and our security as a nation is this overwhelming burden of debt.
Many economists have said this burden of debt is actually causing us to lose 1 million jobs a year. It crowds out private investment because we have to take care of financing this enormous debt.
Amidst all of this, we have rules in place. There is a Budget Act that we have had in place since the 1970s that requires that this body put forward a budget. The problem is we have no budget and have had no budget for 3 years.
Now, one would say: How can this be when we have a law that says the majority party has to have a budget, and yet we have no budget? They are in defiance of the law. Then if you were to come to us and say you want money spent on X item, we can't even do anything about it because there are no appropriations bills. If we don't have a budget, we don't have appropriations bills, and we can't alter up or down the appropriations bills because we don't have a budget to go by.
In fact, every bit of spending we do here is in defiance of our own rules because we are supposed to compare the spending bills to the budget, and we have no budget.
Many of us have been promoting something new--this would be a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution--because we don't seem to be doing a very good job balancing the budget. When you have less money coming in, you spend less money. Every American family has to do this. Why can't Washington simply spend what comes in? It shouldn't be that complicated. But they aren't obeying their own rules, so I think we need stronger rules. That would be an amendment to the Constitution that says we must balance the budget.
We had a vote on it. Forty-seven of us on our side of the aisle voted for it, and no one on the other side voted for it. Our balanced budget amendment to the Constitution would require that the budget balance within 5 years. In that vein, our office has put together a budget that does balance in 5 years, and it actually, over a 10-year period, would reduce the deficit by $2 trillion. Ours is the only budget that will balance in 5 years and begin paying down the debt over 10 years.
Right now, Congress has an approval rating of 11 percent. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that we aren't doing our job. We aren't passing a budget, much less a balanced budget amendment. If people vote for our budget, we would balance in 5 years and begin paying down the debt. I think the stock market would be ecstatic to hear this.
How do you do this? In order to balance the budget, we have to tackle entitlement reform. Currently, Social Security is $6.2 trillion short of money. The taxes people pay into Social Security are less than what we pay out. Social Security is essentially insolvent.
You ask: Well, how come my check keeps coming?
Your check will always keep coming. As the bankruptcy grows deeper and deeper, your checks will come--they won't buy anything. You are already seeing this at the pump. Gasoline prices have doubled. Is it because gas is more precious? No. It is because the value of the dollar is shrinking. The value of the dollar is shrinking because we print all this new money to pay for this massive debt. It is unsustainable, and one way or another it is going to come to a head.
Will it come to a head through the destruction of our currency paying for this debt? I don't know, but we certainly need a budget. Ours will be a budget that balances in 5 years. People say: Why don't you compromise with the other side?
We will, but they have to have a budget. If ours balances in 5 years and the other side will promote one that balances in 10, compromise would be 7 1/2 . But if the other side doesn't have a budget or if the other side has a budget--the President put forward a budget, and we will vote on that too. His never balances. So we have infinity for their side, and we have 5 years on our side. How do we get halfway from infinity to 5 years?
If we are going to compromise, they have to come to the table. We have to engage in a debate. Entitlements are 65 percent of the budget. They call it mandatory spending, and nobody wants to do anything about it. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid is 65 percent of the budget. If we don't tackle entitlement reform, we can't fix it. We have a proposal on the table.
Social Security reform, we fix Social Security. The way we fix it is we gradually let the age of eligibility rise to 70 over about 20 years, and we means-test the benefits--not on the current people but on the next wave. My generation will have to wait longer. Why? Is it because we want to change things? No. It is because we are living longer. We all have a longer life expectancy, and then we had smaller families. This isn't anybody's fault. It is not the Democrats' fault and it is not the Republicans' fault. We just had a bunch of large families born after World War II. They are all retiring, and each subsequent generation had less children. It is a demographic fact. Combine that with the fact that we are living longer, and we have to make changes.
But we have a proposal on the table. We will fix Social Security. How do we compromise if the other side will not come up with a proposal?
Social Security is $6 trillion in the hole. Medicare is $35 to $40 trillion in the hole. We have a solution. We will give every senior citizen in the country the same health care plan I have. The same health care plan that every Senator and Congressman has, we are willing to give it to them. Do you know whose idea this was? Senator John Kerry from Massachusetts, a Democrat. We have taken his idea and put it forward, but we can't get anybody on that side to talk to us. They have given up. It is an election year. They are not going to do anything this year. They didn't do anything last year.
So we haven't done anything to fix entitlements. We have done nothing to
fix Social Security, nothing to fix Medicare. How do you compromise with a side that has no proposition, that won't put anything forward? But we have a 5-year plan that balances in 5 years, and we fix Social Security. We save Social Security in perpetuity--which, I laughingly say, is a long time.
We also fix Medicare. We save Medicare. Medicare is facing a $35 to $40 trillion deficit, and we are willing to save it. But the other side has to come to the table, and nobody is showing up to debate these issues. No one is proposing any budget on the other side. No one is proposing any entitlement reform.
In our budget we save Social Security, we save Medicare, and we go one step further. We have tax reform that would help the country and would make it fair.
Some on the other side say, well, let's get rid of all those loopholes for special interests. We do it. We do a flat tax: 17 percent for all businesses, 17 percent for all personal. You get to deduct your kids and your house, and that is it. No other deductions. No other special interest exemptions. No other special credits for any special business or special enterprise. A flat 17 percent for everybody. We would see a boom in this country like we have never seen if we would do it.
What would compromise be? Maybe the other side wants 25 percent, and I want 17 percent, and we go in the middle and we do 22 percent. That would be compromise. But how do we compromise with the other side when there is no budget? There is no entitlement reform proposed from the other side. There is no tax reform proposed from the other side. How do we compromise if there is no other side?
If the other side has decided not to show up this year--if this year is going to be a waste of time and everybody is going to just run for office, maybe we shouldn't be paid this year. Maybe you shouldn't pay your Congressman, maybe you shouldn't pay your Senator this year if we are not going to have proposals from both sides.
This means we should be talking about entitlement reform, talking about tax reform, talking about budgets, and there would be give-and-take.
The only way to get give-and-take in our country is people need to show up for the debate. We need to do our job. Why is there not a committee in Washington, not any committee--why is there not any committee meeting every day on how to fix Social Security? Nobody is talking about it. Why is there no committee discussing Medicare reform meeting every day, Republicans and Democrats, talking, figuring out a way out of this? There is no such committee.
Why is there not a committee on tax reform, discussing how we could make our Tax Code simpler and make it easier for people to figure out and make the rates lower so we could spur the economy? Every time we have lowered tax rates, unemployment is cut in half. When we had an upper rate of 90 percent and Kennedy lowered it to 70 percent, unemployment was cut in half. When Reagan lowered the top rate from 70 percent to 50 percent, unemployment was cut in half. When Reagan lowered it again from 50 to 28, unemployment was cut in half.
But we as a country have to decide that we do not want to punish rich people, that we do not want to go out and punish corporations. We work for these people. We want them to do better. The oil and gas industry employs 9.2 million people and pays $86 million a day in taxes. We want them to do better. Let's not punish them with more taxes and regulations. Let's make their taxes lower and their regulatory burden lower so they can drill for more oil in our country and employ more people in our country. These are the decisions we have to make as we go forward.
We have a budget that can balance in 5 years. It is what our country needs. I think people would react, and the marketplace in particular would react in a tremendous fashion if we would move forward and vote for a budget.
The Republicans will have four or five budgets presented. Some of them balance in 5, some of them balance in 8, some of them balance in 28. But we are at least trying. We are showing up and we are presenting budgets that would balance at some finite period of time. I tell people if it is never going to balance, it should not even be presented. If it is not going to balance in your lifetime--if you say it is going to balance in somebody else's lifetime when somebody else is going to be here in Congress--you have abdicated your responsibility. We can do better than this. The American people expect us to do better than this. The American people expect us to show up and do our job.
We will today vote on these budgets. What I ask of the American people is: Look and see how your Representatives vote. Look and see how your Senators vote. Look and see whether your Senators believe in balancing the budget or if they think it doesn't matter; we will just print up more money.
But realize if their answer is to print up more money, if their answer is deficits do not matter, if that is their answer, I want you to get mad and I want you to get angry and I want you to get even. Every time you go to the gas pump and pay $4 for gas I want you to know why gas prices are rising. Not because gas is more precious but because your dollar is less valuable, and that is because of the massive debt we run and the irresponsibility up here that nobody is willing to tackle it.
There are some on our side willing to make the tough decisions. Is it easy to stand here and say to the people in Kentucky and the people in America that the only way to save Social Security is letting the age of eligibility rise? Do you think that is popular? Do you think I am saying that to pander and try to get votes? I am saying that is because it is the only thing that is going to save Social Security, the only thing that will save our country, is we have to make difficult decisions. I think that is what needs to happen.
People need to say: Are you willing to make the tough decisions? Are you willing to stand up and say this is how we would fix Social Security; this is how we would save the system; this is how we would correct this deficit that is dragging us all down?
One side is willing to do that. I am willing to do that and I hope my fellow Senators will today consider voting to balance the budget.
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