I want to commend the Majority for finally putting forward a budget for the Senate to debate. This was the first time in four years the Senate had the opportunity to vote on a Majority-produced budget resolution. The budget they offered is far from what our country needs, but the fact that we had this debate is a very positive step in the right direction.
Passing a budget is a basic responsibility of a government. For too long now, Washington has been operating without one. The American people don't have this luxury. Arkansans ask me, almost daily, how we can spend money we don't have because they can't. They are forced to live within their means while Washington isn't. So, I am pleased to see an end to this unacceptable trend.
Unfortunately, this budget plan fell far short of what we need to get our fiscal house in order and get our economy back on track.
At a time when we need to put Americans back to work, the Majority offered a budget that makes jobs disappear. At a time when we need to cut spending, the Majority's proposal increases spending by 62 percent over the next decade. At a time when we need comprehensive reform to ease the tax burden hardworking Americans face, the Majority offers to raise taxes another $1.5 trillion. And at a time when we need to be paying down the national debt, the Majority's budget adds another $7.3 trillion to it.
I can tell you what the people of Arkansas think about this budget. Our state is required to balance its budget. Every year, the legislators who serve in Little Rock have to make the difficult decisions that come with that obligation. They make it work. Washington can too.
Focusing on a pro-growth, balanced budget is the only way we will speed up the slowest economic recovery since World War II. We aren't going to get there by continuing to do the status quo. It hasn't worked.
We all want to save future generations from the burden of debt; create an environment where the economy can grow; protect our entitlement programs for future generations; and create a fair tax system that allows every American to keep more of his or her hard-earned money.
These are all admirable goals. I believe they are goals every one of my colleagues would like to accomplish. And the good news is that they are achievable.
If we balance the budget now, we save future generations from the burden of debt.
If we pursue policies that focus on growing the private sector economy, we can create rising wages and better jobs.
If we address the looming crisis with our entitlement programs, we can protect Social Security and Medicare for our children and grandchildren.
If we enact comprehensive tax reform, we can ensure that every American keeps more of his or her hard-earned money and help small businesses grow.
It all starts with a responsible budget. The Senate Majority missed a chance to take that step when it put forth its budget proposal.