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We All Need to Get Into the Boat Together

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to congratulate President Obama for what I believe were the most important words that came from his press conference that he delivered yesterday when he said we all need to get into the boat together. Now, he was referring, of course, to the challenge of entitlement spending.

I listened to my California colleague talk about her priorities when it comes to dealing with budget issues. We are in the midst of a debate right now that will take place later today, and obviously it went into early this morning, on the continuing resolution and the challenges we face there. We are looking at making cuts that are important and need to take place. But, Mr. Speaker, they pale in comparison to the challenge that we face of dealing with entitlement spending.

When the President said we all need to get into that boat together, what he meant was, it was very clear, we need to work together in a bipartisan way. And there are all kinds of challenges that have been put before us and horror stories as it relates to entitlement spending. And there is a tendency on both sides of the aisle, when it comes to dealing with the issue of entitlement spending, to point the finger of blame at the other party. That's why I was particularly pleased that just recently the former chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, our colleague Pete Domenici, along with the former Director of the Congressional Budget Office, Alice Rivlin, have been meeting with leaders of both political parties, talking about the imperative of dealing with the issue of entitlement reform.

As we look at the debate that's taking place right now, Mr. Speaker, on the discretionary spending that is before us and juxtapose that to the massive, massive spending as we look as far as the eye can see when it comes to Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlement spending, I believe that if we can deal with entitlement spending, we will be able to have resources to address priorities that I know my California colleague and other colleagues on both sides of the aisle share. So that's why I think that it's important for both the left and the right to come together and recognize that the problems that exist with entitlement spending need to be addressed in a bipartisan way. They can be addressed in a bipartisan way. And in so doing, we will be ensuring that future generations are not going to face this tremendous debt burden.

We'll be addressing the issue that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, has said is our number one national security threat, and that is the looming national debt. I believe that we will be able to let the American people know that we do have, as a priority, a desire to work together to resolve the very important problems that lie ahead.

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