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Public Statements

The Debt Ceiling

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PITTENGER. I thank my good friend from Indiana.

Mr. Speaker, in previous generations, serving as a Member of Congress was considered an honorable profession. Congressmen were held in high esteem and examples of true leadership. They were honored in books like ``Profiles in Courage.'' Sadly, we seem to have lost our way. Last week, Public Policy Polling found that only 9 percent of Americans approve of the job that Congress is doing. In my opinion, the reason no one approves of the job we're doing is that we're not doing our job.

Our Nation is in peril. We are threatened, not by a foreign tyrant, but by our own reckless spending. Just today, the Fitch Ratings agency warned that our AAA credit rating is at risk. We are on the verge of squandering everything that we have received from previous generations. Sadly, we are more likely to leave the next generation with crushing debt than we are to pass along the America we love.

My fellow Representatives, may I make a suggestion? Starting with the 113th Congress, the buck stops here. For too many years, Congress and the President have received an A in addition, but they seem to have always flunked subtraction. We must commit to bringing spending in line with revenue, to setting priorities and learning to say ``no.'' If we are to be the Congress which takes to say ``no.'' If we are to be the Congress which takes substantive action on deficit reduction, we must start with entitlements. It's the topic everyone is afraid to address, but weren't we elected to show true leadership?

Today the Fitch Ratings agency warned that our Nation's AAA credit rating is at risk if an increase in the debt ceiling doesn't also include a credible plan for deficit reduction. The Government Accountability Office has reported that government spending is on an unsustainable long-term fiscal path, with entitlements the primary culprit. The Congressional Budget Office reports that, left unchecked, the Federal entitlement programs will soon swamp the entire budget. Will entitlement reform be messy? Yes. Is it necessary? Yes. In fact, it's the only way to bring a lasting solution to our Nation's fiscal problems.

Any plan to reform entitlements must protect the benefits promised to the current generation. But as we look to the future, we need serious reforms that will reduce spending while preserving these important safety nets for future generations.

In 2006, then-Senator Obama said:

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure.

Yet, under President Obama, we've seen record-setting deficit spending and trillions added to our national debt. The leadership failure lies with the President and others in Congress who have been unable to say ``no.''

Our objective is not arbitrary. Tax revenues are expected to remain right at the historical average of around 18 percent of the GDP. We know how much money we'll make. Now we need to sit down at the kitchen table with a calculator and figure out how to live within our means.

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