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Public Statements

The Budget

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DeMINT. Madam President, I thank Senator Sessions for leading these few minutes of debate we were allowed. It is an extraordinary situation where we are as a nation, that we are here with only a few minutes of debate about what has become the most serious situation our country has ever faced, and that is our debt.

When President Obama was a Senator in 2006, he said ``increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally.''

Admiral Mullen, the Chairman of our Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said: ``Our biggest national security threat is our debt.''

We know the rating agencies that look at our financial condition, such as Standard & Poor's, have downgraded us. We know major capital funds have divested of Treasury notes, concerned about our political will to deal with our debt. Yet we do not have a budget. We do not have any plan to deal with the debt. Everything Republicans put forward in the House and the Senate the Democrats sit on the sidelines and criticize and misrepresent. Yet they offer no solutions themselves.

It is hard to deal with $14 trillion in debt and what it really means. Here is one chart that is somewhat helpful. We hear in the news that Greece and Ireland and Portugal are bankrupt. They are close to defaulting. They are having to be bailed out by the International Monetary Fund. These charts just show the percent of debt relative to their total economy, their GDP.

We see Greece is already at 136 percent; Ireland is at 75 percent; Portugal, 82 percent. If we add up all the liabilities that we have as a nation, we are already at 95 percent, which means we have more debt relative to our total economy than Portugal and Ireland already, and very soon we are on a track to even outpace Greece. Yet we do not even have a budget, no plan of what to spend.

When Republicans talk about the need to cut spending all we get is criticism. The President has actually submitted a budget that nearly doubles our debt over the next 10 years. We will get a chance to vote on it. Not even the Democrats are going to vote for that budget. But they have not even presented one on their own.

We will also get a chance to vote on the House budget. The Democrats think if we do, that is going to hurt us. But I think we will see most Republicans vote for it because they know we have to deal with Medicare. The President's budget cuts what Medicare pays doctors another 35 percent. Already about 50 percent of the doctors in this country will not see new Medicare patients. The President cut $ 1/2 trillion from Medicare to help pay for ObamaCare and somehow he can look us in the eye and say this strengthened Medicare. The fact is, the Democrats have Medicare on a course of bankruptcy that is going to happen much sooner than is projected because people will not be able to find a doctor if the President's budget is implemented anywhere close to where it is going to be implemented.

Republicans are trying to save Medicare and make sure there are options for seniors in the future that will be good options for them; that they will have a way to pay for health care in the future. Medicare will not be there. Anyone who looks at seniors today and tells seniors that traditional Medicare is going to be there 5 or 10 years from now is not telling the truth because it is not. Doctors will not see Medicare patients at the rate we are going to pay.

All we are doing today is having what we call message votes, show votes. They are set up to fail. The majority leader does not intend to pass any budget--not the President's budget, not a Republican budget, and they will not even offer one on their own. We are going to leave here today with this situation right here: with America approaching a debt level which we have seen take down other countries and continue to ignore the obvious.

As has already been referenced by Senator Ayotte, the majority leader actually said:

There is no need to have a Democratic budget ..... it would be foolish of us to do a budget at this stage.

It would be foolish because it would reveal what they really intend to do, which is to keep spending and keep borrowing, keep investing, keep growing government programs, and not make those hard decisions that have to be made to pull our country away from the edge of a cliff, which is where we are.

Everyone outside Washington seems to understand that we have an urgent situation right now. Yet here we are today with just these show votes on a budget with no intent of dealing with this at all. What we need to be doing is--recognizing the President has said our debt is our biggest problem, and it is a failure of leadership to ask for an increase in the debt ceiling--we need to recognize we cannot raise this debt ceiling. We cannot increase our debt unless we make the hard decisions that need to be made for the future.

The only decision that will change this place is if we pass a balanced budget requirement for the Congress that the States have to ratify. If we passed that this year before we voted on the debt ceiling, then the people of this country in all 50 States would have a chance to ratify that. It would take 1 year or 2, 3 years to be ratified; then there is another 5 years' implementation built into the bill. So we are talking 6 or 8 years to get to a balanced budget.

If we cannot make that commitment as a Congress, we are in effect committing to bankrupt our country because all of us know we cannot keep spending more than we are bringing in when they are already telling us we are at a debt level that is going to bankrupt our country. We cannot even pay the interest if interest rates go up at all.

We have to be responsible, and what we are doing today is completely irresponsible. I cannot raise the rhetorical level high enough to talk about the absurdity of where we are. We put our country in danger, our future at risk, and yet we are having show votes on budgets and no budget at all from the Democratic majority.

I appreciate the Senator from Alabama at least taking this time that we have to point out the real issues and the urgency of the matter in the fact that we need to move from show to real substance. We cannot roll up our sleeves and work together if the other side does not agree that we have a problem. We do have a problem, and the only way to change that is for us to agree as a Congress to balance our budget within a reasonable window and to put that structure on us so we keep that budget balanced in the future.

I thank Senator Sessions and yield the floor.


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