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Public Statements

Debt Limit

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

DEBT LIMIT -- (Senate - September 20, 2007)

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I want to spend a few minutes talking about something that will come up in the next week or 10 days. That is an extension and expansion of the debt limit. An attempt will be made to do this by unanimous consent. That is wrong. Every Member of the Senate ought to be on record on whether we ought to expand again the amount of borrowing we are going to place on the backs of our children and grandchildren. The current statutory debt limit is $8.965 trillion. It was last raised March 20, 2006. This Senator voted against that. We have been on notice since that time that we needed to make the effort to rein in wasteful Washington spending so that we do not have to, in fact, borrow more money against our children's future. Only 10 years ago it was $5.95 billion. We have increased the debt in the last 10 years by 50 percent.

What does that mean? Individually, that means $30,000 for every man, woman, and child. But the important aspect is not just what we owe now but what the unfunded liabilities are for the future which are in excess of $70 trillion. What does that mean if you are born today? That means if you are born today, you will be inheriting at the moment of your birth liabilities of over $400,000. How in the world can our children have an education, a great job, own a home, and give their children the things we have benefited from by being born owing $400,000?

It is time for things to come to a stop or to markedly change. This last week the Senate once again failed to make tough decisions about priorities. We chose to fund pork projects instead of repairing bridges. We said peace gardens, bike paths, and baseball stadiums are more important than critical infrastructure. Yesterday a new poll was released. Rightly so, it reflected less than 11 percent of Americans have confidence in this body. It is no wonder. Our priorities are wrong.

Congress for years has raided the Social Security and Medicare trust funds to hide the true size of the annual budget deficit. This practice has undermined the solvency of the programs and threatens both the retirement security of today's workers and the economic opportunities and future of our children and grandchildren. It is irresponsible to simply raise the debt limit while at the same time creating or expanding Federal programs that will result in additional borrowing from Social Security trust funds and not accepting the responsibility to make hard choices about what are our priorities. Congress has repeatedly demonstrated that it is unwilling to prioritize spending. This year multiple times the Senate has rejected amendments to cut spending while authorizing billions and billions of dollars in new spending. The Senate this year twice has rejected amendments stating that Congress has a moral obligation to offset the cost of new Government spending by getting rid of the waste, fraud, abuse, and duplication in current Federal programs.

American families don't have the luxury Congress has. They can't get a new loan or new credit cards after they have maxed out their capability to borrow. Yet instead, every day in this body we do essentially that.

The moral question is, why should we be proud of stealing from our children? There isn't a greater moral question before this country today than whether we are going to steal opportunity and freedom from the next generation.

I am putting the Senate on notice that I will not agree to a UC on the debt limit extension without a debate and full vote by each Member of this body on that debt limit and a recommitment to do what is right for the future.


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