PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF S. 2986, INCREASING THE PUBLIC DEBT LIMIT -- (Extensions of Remarks - November 20, 2004)
Mr. LANGEVIN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to S. 2986, which would increase our Nation's debt limit by $800 billion. This irresponsible legislation shortsightedly gives Congress carte blanche to run up the deficit with no plan to get our budget back in balance. If this measure is signed into law, the real losers are future generations of Americans, who will be stuck with the bill for many years to come.
This bill would raise the debt limit for the third time in just as many years, including a record $984 billion increase in May 2003. That addition alone was larger than the entire national debt accrued by the United States from our founding in 1776 all the way to 1980.
Today's legislation would allow the national debt to reach a staggering $8.18 trillion. This thirteen digit amount is 70 percent of the size of our economy. As Senator BYRD noted in a recent floor statement, "To count a trillion dollars, at the rate of $1 per second, would take 32,000 years." Should S. 2986 pass, counting to our debt limit would take more than eight times as long.
Most alarming is the Administration's refusal to admit that the ballooning budget deficit is a problem. Despite the President's campaign promise to cut the deficit in half, next year's deficit will likely to be even larger than this year's due to commitments abroad as well as the President's promises to privatize Social Security while funding homeland security needs and reforming the Tax Code.
For fiscal year 2004, taxpayers owed $322 billion in interest alone. I hope my constituents realize that the first $2,000 of their taxes will not go towards better schools, roads, health care or defense. Rather, this sum is just one in a series of increasing interest payments they will make because this administration chose to forgo fiscal responsibility in favor of tax cuts for a few privileged Americans.
We need to restore fiscal responsibility to this Congress by reinstating meaningful Pay-As-You-Go rules. Just as a family must plan its budget for the next year, ensuring that expenses do not exceed income, Congress must create a balanced budget to avoid adding even more debt in the future.
I will be voting for the responsible Stenholm Motion to Recommit, which would extend the debt ceiling until April 15, 2005, when next year's budget is due. Unless Congress puts pressure on ourselves, we will never balance the budget. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting the Stenholm Motion to Recommit and oppose final passage of S. 2986.