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Mrs. BROOKS of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, my message today is simple: On too many big items, Congress has been kicking the can down the road for years. It's time to supply real leadership on the most pressing challenges we face. This is the only way we can restore trust in Congress.
We are fast approaching a dead end. The Social Security Trust Fund will be bankrupt in 20 years. Medicare and Medicaid are not on a sustainable path. It is wrong for us to make promises to the American people we know we cannot keep. We must address the drivers of our debt--Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security--not because these programs don't have merits, and certainly not because the seniors currently benefiting from them don't deserve what they've been promised, but because real leadership isn't about making the easy choice, it's about making the right choice.
Social Security and Medicare alone account for 36 percent of our Federal
spending, and both are going to keep growing because of our aging population. My friends on the other side of the aisle will talk about cutting waste, fraud, and abuse. And while I agree we must do that, we can't tell the American people that cutting and eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse alone is enough to tackle the $16 trillion debt. That's not leadership.
History shows us that unless we make the hard decision to implement changes that equal real savings now, it will not happen. We cannot afford to make changes in 7, 8 or 9 years. We don't have the luxury of more time.
We're in a position to clearly see three obvious opportunities to make real, sustainable changes. First, we know we are approaching the debt ceiling. Second, sequestration will go into effect in 2 months, and third, funding for the government will expire March 27. These are opportunities to make real changes in spending.
I'm excited to be representing Indiana's Fifth District, and I'm ready to get to work. There is no reason we need to wait until the eleventh hour to start talking about the tough decisions we must make for the future of our country. It is time we commit to saving these important programs for those who need them and getting our economic house in order for the future generations of my children and my grandchildren and our country's children and grandchildren. Let's be the Congress in this 113th Congress that chose to tackle real problems rather than handing them down to our children. Let's embrace right-minded solutions that can set us on a path toward a better and much more sustainable future.
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