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Public Statements

Increasing The Statutory Limit On The Public Debt

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SPRATT. Madam Speaker, to supplement my remarks about statutory PAYGO, I would like to include in the RECORD the attached section of the bill.

Madam Speaker, at the outset of the 1990s, the Congress passed the Budget Enforcement Act for a simple purpose: to ensure that the Budget Summit Agreement we just passed was actually carried out. Among its provisions was a new rule called PAYGO, pay-as-you-go.

I can remember how our critics disdained our resort to budget process instead of making hard substantive decisions. They said we were dodging the hard choices, choices we had to make if we were going to wipe out the deficit. But by the end of the 1990s, the budget was in surplus for the first time in 30 years, and it was clear that for the budget process, rules we would put in place like PAYGO played a big part in our fiscal success.

Republicans were in the majority in 2002 when the Budget Enforcement Act expired, and they chose not to reinstate PAYGO because they knew it would impede passage of their tax-cutting agenda. Without these process rules in place, the budget plunged from a surplus of $236 billion to a deficit of $413 billion in the year 2004. When Democrats took back the House, we made PAYGO a rule of the House the first day we convened the 110th Congress.

The Obama administration, the current Congress have inherited an economy in crisis and a colossal deficit, swollen by recession and recovery measures both. As these measures pull us out of recession, we should turn our attention on our longer-term fiscal fate.

Statutory PAYGO works. It's proven to work. It reins in new entitlement spending. It reins in tax cuts as well. Both tend to be long lasting, easy to pass, hard to repeal. By insisting on offsets and insisting on deficit neutrality, PAYGO buffers the bottom line, and Lord knows it needs it now. Its terms are complex, but at its core is a commonsense rule that everyone can understand: When you are in a hole, stop digging.

Statutory PAYGO was first put in place with bipartisan support, renewed on a bipartisan basis in 1997. When the House passed it in July, the rule PAYGO, two dozen Republicans joined 241 Democrats in voting for it.

We recall and invite you to cast another vote today for statutory for fiscal responsibility. Vote for statutory PAYGO. It will help us reduce the deficit, both short-term and long-term. And while it can't solve all of our problems--it's no panacea--it does represent one solid step forward towards getting things back on the path of fiscal sustainability and fiscal responsibility.


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