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Cut, Cap, and Balance

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. FRANKS of Arizona. Madam Speaker, we are going to discuss tonight the cut, cap, and balance bill that will come before this body tomorrow morning. I just want to express some thoughts about how desperately important I believe this bill is for America. I have seen in the media oftentimes the bill diminished. Madam Speaker, I believe this is an opportunity that is very unusual for those of us in this body to have, where we can put this Nation on a track to fiscal sanity and where we can truly do that thing that we were sent here to do.

Madam Speaker, let me begin by saying that all financial budgets will eventually balance. No individual, no family, no business, and no government can indefinitely continue to spend more money than they take in without someone having to make up the difference. That includes the budget of the United States Federal Government. Neither Mr. Obama nor congressional Democrats can repeal the laws of mathematics.

The Federal budget of the United States Government will eventually balance, Madam Speaker. The question is whether the House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and the White House will work together to balance this budget ourselves by wise policy, or national bankruptcy and financial ruin will do it for us.

From the day Barack Obama walked into the White House, he has, with breathtaking arrogance, absolutely ignored economic and financial reality. It took America the first 216 years of its existence to accumulate the debt that Barack Obama has accumulated in the short 2 1/2 -year span of his Presidency. During his short time in office, Madam Speaker, he has increased our Federal debt by nearly $4 trillion.

Just to put that nearly $4 trillion in new debt in perspective, let me put it this way: if all of a sudden a wave of responsibility swept through this Chamber and we stopped all deficit spending and began to pay installments of $1 million every day to pay down the nearly $4 trillion debt that Barack Obama has created in just 2 1/2 years, it would take us more than 10,000 years to pay it off. And that's if we didn't have to pay one dime in interest, Madam Speaker.

But, you see, we are not paying off Mr. Obama's debt by $1 million per day. We are going deeper into debt, more than 4,000 times that $1 million a day every day under Mr. Obama's own submitted budget and deficit projection. Let me say that again: if we paid down the debt $1 million a day, the debt that Mr. Obama has accumulated in his 2 1/2 year Presidency, it would take us 10,000 years to do it. But we are not doing that. We are going deeper into debt, 4,000 times that much, every day, almost $4 billion per day.

And then when speaking of the effort to reduce the deficit, the President has the hubris to tell conservative Republicans to take a balanced approach and to eat our peas. Madam Speaker, if there is anything more catastrophically out of balance than our Federal budget, it is the arrogance to competency ratio of this White House. We have already tried Mr. Obama's way. We have for far too long been testing Democrat economics 101; the theory, as Vice President Biden put it, we have to spend money to keep from going bankrupt.

Madam Speaker, when it comes to balancing our budget, Mr. Obama and the liberal media have suggested that Republicans are unwilling to address the revenue side of the equation, but that isn't true either. Just because Republicans are not willing to increase job-killing tax rates on this country doesn't mean that we don't understand the revenue side of the equation.

History and experience have demonstrated time and again that the best way to increase the amount of revenue coming into this government is to get out of the way and allow the private sector to increase the quality and number of jobs for the American people. This has historically resulted in the increased productivity and the broadening of the tax base in this amazing Nation.

And yet the President is willing to ignore that history and the reality of the amazing American economic engine and kill the goose that lays the golden eggs by raising taxes. Madam Speaker, that is like saying putting additional weight on the back of a race horse will help him win more races.

You will recall that the Democrats, when they had control of Congress, raised the debt limit six times. I so clearly remember the surreal spectacle at the time of then-majority leader of the House, Steny Hoyer, leading the entire Democrat caucus in a rousing standing ovation after the debt limit was raised by $2 trillion in 2010. We have watched as President Obama ran up a trillion-dollar deficit for the first time in history and then break that record the very next year, and then say that we would have $1 trillion-plus deficits "for years to come.''

We have watched as Mr. Obama and the administration promised that if we just allowed them to spend another $800 billion on their stimulus package that the economy would rebound and unemployment would never go beyond 8 percent. Now, Madam Speaker, the American people have awakened, and they are tired of Democrats telling them that 2 plus 2 equals 13.

So as we now find ourselves facing the prospect of raising the debt ceiling yet again, Republicans have said the only way we are going to consent to raising the debt ceiling is if we cut spending by the same amount we increase the debt ceiling and then if we give the people and the States of this Nation the historic opportunity to adopt a balanced budget amendment to our Constitution to put this country back on the track of fiscal sanity once again, Madam Speaker.

Now, I know that Mr. Obama and the Democrats have falsely said that the balanced budget amendment is just a Republican plan to destroy Social Security and Medicare. But the truth is that the bill we will be voting on tomorrow does not cut Social Security, it does not cut Medicare, and it does not cut the compensation to our men

and women in uniform by one dime. But the balanced budget amendment does give us an honest chance of reforming and saving those programs and our country from bankruptcy in the future.

Mr. Obama and the Democrats have constantly said that we need to take a "balanced approach'' and include increased taxes in the equation. But I have already said, Madam Speaker, increasing the rate of taxes will decrease the productivity of this Nation and will ultimately decrease the revenue that comes into this government. It is the economic equivalent of mixing dirt and ice cream. It is a poor recipe to embrace in the name of balance.

Madam Speaker, the truly balanced approach to this problem is a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution. By passing this cut, cap, and balance bill, along with the balanced budget amendment, we have a rare opportunity, and it is one that may never come again, Madam Speaker, of doing something truly historic that will save this Nation and its people from economic ruin.

Now, if the President and the Democrats will help us do this, together we can restore hope and confidence in capital markets inside the United States and really all over the world because those markets will see in the long run that America is going to make it.

It may take 6 or 7 years to fully ratify this constitutional amendment once it is sent to the States. But we owe it to the States and to the people to give them this chance to save their Nation. In the meantime, we can work hard here to expand this economy and to balance this budget that we work with here every year so that when the amendment is ratified, we will be ready to go forward together as a Nation to embrace the greatest days we have ever seen.

However, Madam Speaker, if the Democrats and the President are not willing to give America and the American people this chance by helping Republicans pass a balanced budget amendment in this Congress, the resulting consequences will be theirs alone, and I believe the people will hold them accountable for whatever financial disaster may follow.

Madam Speaker, long ago Thomas Jefferson said: I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution. I mean an additional article taking from the Federal Government the power of borrowing.

Madam Speaker, it turns out Thomas Jefferson was right the vast majority of the time, and we have been those who have seen the best of some of the principles that he espoused so long ago. How I wish his contemporaries had listened to him about the balanced budget amendment. But in this moment in history, America may get a second chance, Madam Speaker. But we may not get it again.

I don't often quote Shakespeare, but long ago he wrote in a play this quote that I think applies to us today. He said:

"There is a tide in the affairs of men.

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all the voyage of their life

Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

On such a full sea are we now afloat,

And we must take the current when it serves,

Or lose our ventures.''

In this time of crisis, we are also standing in a place where the tide is high and the opportunity is real for us to do something that will truly turn things around for this Nation.

Madam Speaker, this is not the Democrat Congress of last year that gave a standing ovation to a $2 trillion increase in our debt limit. This is the Congress that was sent here by the American people to turn things around. And that starts by drawing the line on spending and saying thus far and no further and passing a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution. By the grace of God, Madam Speaker, that's exactly what we're going to do.

With that, I would like to yield to the gentleman from Indiana for such time as he may consume.


Mr. FRANKS of Arizona. I thank the gentleman from California for his wise and well-placed words.

My friends on the left would have us believe that if we have a balanced budget in this country that somehow it will crush all of the critical programs for the most vulnerable in our society. Madam Speaker, that just simply is not true.

There is very little that I know of that would cause this government to flourish economically than for the Nation, itself, to flourish economically. Oftentimes, we forget that the confidence in the system has a great deal to do with the success of the system. We find that a lot of us on the right talk about the competitive free market, and we do believe in that; but I will tell you there is something that we believe in even more, and that is an element called "trust.''

Of those who are the producers of our society, of those who are the job makers of our society, of those who are the captains of industry and productivity, all the way down to the person who makes minimum wage, if they believe that they can trust the environment they're in and if they do what they believe is right--that their contracts will be honored, that their wages will be paid, that government will make sure that they're treated justly and fairly--then they will continue to be productive, and they will continue to do everything that they can collectively to make this country the ongoing greatest Nation in the history of the world.

Madam Speaker, when that trust is broken--when government sometimes just sets aside its own rules and prints money and deficit spends and completely ignores the important things that it's supposed to do to keep trust with the people that it represents--then oftentimes those who are the producers, those who are the entrepreneurs, those who are the ones who try to make a difference in this world become discouraged, and they step back because they can't trust their government.

I would suggest to you, Madam Speaker, that that is one of the big challenges that we face today.

People have watched over the last many decades this government continue to spend out of control. They've watched us take advantage of inflation. They've watched the government of this Nation and its leaders use deficit spending to a degree that diminishes their way of life, and they've watched us do all the bailouts and all those kinds of things. I will just tell you, Madam Speaker, that they're getting tired, but the good news is this:

The good news is that people have finally awakened.

I would say to you tonight, Madam Speaker, that nothing encourages me more than knowing that people are finally starting to watch this country. They know that a balanced budget amendment will do something that very few other economic policies have ever done: that it will restore the confidence and trust in this government, that we will begin to have to live within our means, that if we want greater revenue to come through these doors that we will do everything that we can to see business flourish, and that we will put aside this notion, as Fred Bastiat said, of government being that great fiction through which everyone endeavors to live at the expense of everyone else.

We will understand that the secret to the success of this Nation economically is productivity. Then we will have the kind of tax base that will not only support this government but that will allow us to do the things that are important for the most helpless in our society.

I want to yield again to the gentleman from California.


Mr. FRANKS of Arizona. I thank the gentleman from Indiana.

Oftentimes, Madam Speaker, I have friends that come up to me on the street and they say, Trent, why aren't you talking more about this? Why aren't you explaining these things in the media better? Why aren't you going to the floor and telling us about these critical issues? So, oftentimes we do and the media just ignores it or somehow the people don't have the advantage of hearing what we say.

And I hope that doesn't happen to this bill, Madam Speaker, because I truly believe if the American people could just read the Cut, Cap, and Balance legislation that they would understand how profoundly reasonable it really is. All it really says is that we are going to cut our budget at least as much as we raise the debt ceiling, and that we're going to put some steps in place to begin to rein in the spending of this government in a real way; and that as we go forward, we will begin to index the spending of this Nation with a certain percentage of the gross domestic product, or the amount of productivity of our Nation.

Madam Speaker, that's so imminently reasonable because that creates a great deal of incentive on the part of government, then, to see all people in our society successful, to see everyone have gain and to be able to accumulate wealth in every way that they can, from the janitor to the Senator.

And then, finally, this legislation says that we need a balanced budget amendment to our Constitution.

Madam Speaker, I have the privilege of being the chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution in this place. I will just suggest to you that the balanced budget amendment seems so intuitive to me because, as I said earlier, all budgets have to balance at some point.

You know, I have two little babies, Joshie and Gracie, and they have piggy banks. They know that if they take more out of it than they put in it, then it goes empty. They understand that. I don't know why something so fundamental and basic escapes the erudite minds that pervade government. But it seems that we think that somehow because we have Ph.D.s and that because we are able to perpetrate monotonic polysyllabic obfuscation, semantic gymnastics, and verbal circumlocution that people won't know what we're talking about and that somehow we can get away with anything that we want to. And I just think that's so tragic because a reality is still in place that says that if we live outside our means, that pretty soon the entire system begins to collapse. That's where we are, Madam Speaker. We are seeing people losing confidence in their government. And I'm very concerned about that because I believe that it is vital that people have confidence.

Somebody said to me, they said, you know, if all of the gold in Fort Knox were stolen tonight and none of us knew about it, that the gold market wouldn't change much tomorrow morning in The Wall Street Journal. But if someone put out a press release, say, from Fort Knox that all of the gold had been stolen in Fort Knox but that that wasn't really true, that all of the gold was still there but somehow the public believed that it had been stolen, that gold markets across the planet the next day would crash because people's perception, their confidence in the system is vital to the system.

Right now, people are losing confidence in our system, and I think there are very few things that threaten us more. We talk about a default. Well, the default is not going to happen on August 2 unless the President chooses to arbitrarily force that to happen. But I am concerned that the markets may begin to say, Maybe the Congress of the United States just doesn't have the courage to do the right thing. Maybe somehow they're going to let politics intervene to the extent that they're actually going to step back and not do what's necessary to stabilize the economic foundation of this Nation. And that is so tragic because it doesn't have to be that way.

This Cut, Cap, and Balance bill can accomplish everything that's reasonable. It can say, okay, we recognize the challenges that we face in this country today. We recognize that we've overspent. We recognize that our country is at a low economically. We recognize that we're not working on full employment. We recognize that the markets don't know whether to jump or go blind. They don't know what this President is going to do next. And if we put this Cut, Cap, and Balance bill in place, all of a sudden, the markets of the world, the person on the street, they're going to realize, hey, maybe there is hope after all. Maybe America is going to go forward and do what she was destined to do from the born of time and continue to be that great city on a hill that Ronald Reagan spoke of. I believe that it can be that way.

But I am afraid that somehow the people won't understand what's in this bill. I will just suggest to you, in all due deference and respect to the President of the United States, his plan is incumbent upon the people not understanding what it is, and the Republican plan is incumbent upon the people understanding what is really in the bill. And I so hope that the people are able to truly get the information that they need to understand what this bill is all about, rather than letting the left-wing media distort it to the extent that they don't know.

I also hope for something else, Madam Speaker. I am hoping that tomorrow when we vote that we will recognize something else as people in this place: that all too soon we will step from these Chambers one by one and that our time here will be passed, and only those things that we did that truly honored our God and our country and our fellow human beings and the great gift that we've been given in America will really matter at that point. I hope we will realize that we won't have too many votes like this in our career that can make a difference for future generations.

It's been said that the politician looks to the next election; whereas, the statesman looks to the next generation, and that great societies finally come when old men plant trees under whose shade they will never sit. I hope tomorrow that we will embrace this thing called statesmanship and look to the next generation and, quite frankly, Madam Speaker, to look to the next few days and weeks, because what we do is going to send a message to the markets the world over.

If you are an investor and you saw a company that continued to deficit spend and continued to get in debt beyond its means and continued to carelessly spend, would you invest in that company? I think that's what our country has to ask ourselves.

I truly believe that we're going to have a chance tomorrow that may be very unique in our careers, and it's possible that a lot of people are going to succumb to the need to be popular among certain special interest groups. But I will just suggest to them, Madam Speaker, that popularity is history's pocket change. It's courage that is the true currency of history, and we have a chance to be courageous tomorrow. We have a chance to do what's right, to stabilize this country today and tomorrow. We have a chance to make sure that our future generations walk in the light of freedom. I have a chance, as a father, to do what I believe is truly right for my children and their contemporaries so that they might grow up and walk in the light of freedom, as I have.

If we do this, I believe the people will applaud us in the long run. There may be certain exceptions in the short term. But in the long run they will look back and say that those people who stood up and did what was right that day when they voted on cut, cap, and balance and voted for the balanced budget amendment, they'll look back and see that as a historic turning point in this country. And I want so much to see that happen.

Finally, Madam Speaker, I would just say to you again that all budgets do balance, and the equation before us today is, are we going to balance the budget, or is reality going to balance it in a horrifying way for us?

For the sake of my children, for the sake of future generations, and for the sake of all that we love and hold dear in this country, and for the sake of making sure that we are good stewards of the greatest Nation God has ever given to this planet, I hope we do the right thing tomorrow.

I yield the remainder of the time to the gentleman from Indiana.


Mr. FRANKS of Arizona. Madam Speaker, let me just close with these thoughts. There are a lot of people that have sacrificed profoundly for this Nation. There are people lying out in Arlington National Cemetery tonight, and I wonder what their perspective would be if they could come back among us for just a few moments?

While none of us knows that, Madam Speaker, I would suggest to you that they didn't die so that we could spend our country into bankruptcy, so that we could weaken our Nation on all fronts simply because we weren't fiscally responsible. And they didn't die so that we could put ourselves so deeply in debt that we spent tens of thousands for each little child born today so that they would have to carry that the rest of their lives.

They wanted, as the Founding Fathers talked about, to see every person, not only in America but, ultimately, in the world, to be able to be born and to lay hold on the miracle of life and to be free and to pursue their dreams. That's what they wanted. Sometimes I am so afraid that we have gotten away from that vision to the extent that we've grown sort of callous and cynical.

I hope that we can revisit those ideals tomorrow, and that we can force ourselves to remember that all of history and all of the future is watching us, and that what we do here tomorrow could mean the difference for America for decades and generations to come.

I believe if we do the right thing, that the loneliest moments in an old age home will be livable because we'll look back and say, you know, that's what we did. We did the right thing. And I hope we do that for the sake of my children, for the sake of America's children, and for the sake, somehow, of the children throughout the world that can be still touched by the message of this, the greatest Republic in the history of humanity.

Madam Speaker, if we will protect our constitutional foundations, if we will protect our economic base, if we will protect those things that make us who we are, then I believe that this government will have all of the revenue that it needs. I believe we will continue and go forward to be more productive than we have ever been, and I believe that America still has great things in the world to do. I hope we make sure that that occurs.

With that, with great respect, Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.


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