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Public Statements

Concurrent Budget Resolution on the Budget, Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I rise today to talk about the spending decisions that are crippling the long-term budget outlook and the futures of our children and grandchildren.

I am one of two accountants serving in the Senate, so the purpose of the budget resolution makes a lot of sense to me. It is like an accounting ledger--a blueprint that lays out spending priorities for the country for the next fiscal year. Back in my accounting days, I made sure that the ledger balanced. I would look carefully line by line at what was being spent and where it was being spent. If the ledger didn't balance, I looked at what could be trimmed from the overall budget. To do that, I would sit down and prioritize what was needed to make the business work, and what could be cut with the least impact on the business or its customers. I would also look at where the business might be duplicating some of its efforts and what could be cut there.

But that is not what we are doing in this exercise. We are not taking a serious look at spending and making the necessary and tough choices about what we can afford.

We aren't even able to vote on spending items that both sides agree are duplicative or wasteful, as we saw during the weeklong exercise with the continuing resolution that passed yesterday.

What we should be doing is asking every agency to prioritize what it does from the best to the worst, and then we would be able to compare that list to the wasteful and duplicative items that have been identified, including some by my colleagues, such as Senator Coburn. He has been tireless in his effort to identify these spending items and bring them to the attention not only of his fellow Senators but the American people. Then we should cut what the Federal Government isn't doing well.

We can also use the principle behind my One Percent Spending Reduction Act--also known as the penny plan. This is a bill that has a simple and direct plan to achieve the spending cuts necessary to balance the budget. It would accomplish the task by cutting a single penny from every dollar the government spends every year for 3 years and end with a balanced budget after those 3 years. Taking this approach, each agency and program within that agency could determine its priorities and decide where to cut 1 percent of its budget. Guaranteed, if given the choice, agencies and programs--I hope--would cut the least important, the least likely to affect staff and overall operations. In other words, they would cut what they could do without, and every business and every agency has those things.

The problem is that every program has a constituency. Every program has folks who are telling me or my colleagues: Yes, we understand the need to cut spending, but my program is an integral part. So don't cut me, cut someone else.

At this point we have to step to the plate and say that there are no easy choices left. If we all feel a little bit of pain now, we can avoid the pain we will face if we continue to kick the can down the road when it comes to our long-term budget outlook. We have to get serious about providing a blueprint for future spending that provides a path to a balanced budget. We need a blueprint that funds the government and necessary programs but takes an honest look at where taxpayer dollars are going and makes changes to spend less and spend more wisely.

Some of my colleagues across the aisle have talked about providing for future generations in the budget resolution. With this budget we are providing for future generations--we are providing them with less prosperity and fewer opportunities by refusing to make some hard decisions and saddling them with unpaid trillions of dollars in bills.

I have three children and four grandchildren who live in Wyoming. Many of my colleagues have children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. It is because of them and families across the country that we have to make tough choices on our spending priorities, and we have to make them now. This budget resolution doesn't do that. Instead, it is another missed opportunity, another ledger that just doesn't balance.

Mr. President, I yield the floor. I suggest the absence of a quorum, and I ask unanimous consent that the time be equally divided.

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Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I appreciate the compliments from the two people who are from States that don't have the sales tax. We are not on the bill. This is an amendment to find out if a majority of the Senate is in favor of making sure we go through with some legislation that will actually solve the problem that is over 20 years old.

This is a problem the Supreme Court decided on and said Congress was the one that needed to fix it. They didn't say States should fix it, they said Congress should fix it. What we have been trying to do is fix it.

I had a complicated bill before called the streamlined sales tax bill. It took care of a lot of the problems we are talking about, such as multijurisdictions, and allows for one check to be dispensed to one location and then distributed to those who are participating.

Senator Alexander had a better idea, and that is the one which is in the bill that is before us, and that is one which makes it States rights. It is where States can decide what they are going to do and how they are going to do it provided they follow a certain number of rules. This is not as definitive as that bill yet because that bill would have to pass through this body as well.

I can assure everyone that no person in a State that doesn't have a sales tax now would have to pay a sales tax. If there is a business selling into a State that does have a sales tax, yes, they would have to collect that sales tax and forward it to that State. If there are complexities or conflicts with that, those can be worked out as the legislation goes through too.

Nobody mentioned that there is a $1 million exemption in the bill. So when we talk about small businesses, if they have less than $1 million in sales, they don't have to do this. Once they reach $1 million in sales, they have to do it the next year so it doesn't become a problem that starts in the middle of the year.

It also requires that the States provide the information and the programs for them to do this. So it is a States rights issue, and that is what the Supreme Court suggested when they suggested we needed to fix this.

If Senators talk to their small businesses, they will find that they want it fixed because there is not fair competition anymore. People will come into a store--I was in the shoe business--and try on shoes. They get all the help they need, find out what they want, and then just order it over the Internet. I think it is kind of interesting when they say: Well, I got free shipping. When someone goes into a store and tries on shoes, they can get it that day. There is not even a day's delay; express shipping is not even needed.

I hope we are able to work on the bill and actually complete a bill and take care of the difference that is taking money away from States. They are not asking the Federal Government for a single dollar. They are not asking for the Federal Government to enforce this. They are asking for the right to have their States rights.

I yield the floor, and I will keep the remainder of my time.

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Mr. ENZI. We have heard a lot of complaints from primarily the non-sales-tax States about the amendment we have proposed, but we haven't heard about the amendments they have proposed. I thought they would use part of their time to make the case for what they were proposing. I am still expecting them to do that, and when they do that, then we ought to have some time for rebuttal. That is why we have saved some of our time. So I yield the floor.

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