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Public Statements

Cut, Cap, and Balance Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WOLF. Mr. Speaker, America is in crisis mode today. We are up against a deadline to increase our nation's $14.3 trillion debt limit to meet its financial obligations.

There was initial hope some weeks ago that with the president finally leading the talks with Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, we would see a plan to reverse the spending spiral. But we've been waiting and waiting and watching and watching for that puff of white smoke to come over the White House to signal to the American people that their government leaders have come together and agreed on a plan and disaster has been averted. Regrettably, we still wait as the debt clock ticks toward the nation's default.

What has been so frustrating to me to watch over the past months is that everyone knows that our country is awash in red ink, everyone knows that our country is spending and borrowing too much, everyone knows that entitlement spending is unsustainable, everyone knows that job creation is stagnant with unemployment today hovering around 9 percent. I've been sounding this alarm for five years.

Everyone knows all this and yet here we are today without the president, who has been leading the debt negotiations, putting pen to paper on a plan for all to see. But the House today is saying to the American people that we can't continue to sit around and wait as our debt grows and the risk of national decline and a downgrading of our nation's credit rating become visible over the horizon.

The House today has a plan before it. The majority Republicans are offering the Cut, Cap and Balance plan. It reduces spending now, caps future spending and says we must balance our budget. Is it a perfect plan? No. I don't agree with all the numbers and the priorities. There are changes I would make and different policies I would include.

But we are at the point today that we cannot allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good. We have to lay down a marker, move the process forward and continue to work for a balanced plan to put America on a path to financial responsibility.

As we listen to some call for a plan that includes more "revenue,'' I want to be clear that I don't support raising taxes on American families. I believe any responsible plan must take a look at reforming and simplifying the tax code to allow hard-working Americans to keep more of their own money and to spur individual savings and small business job creation.

A balanced plan also must look at the reasons that have allowed the ethanol industry to become one of the most subsidized industries in the United States and other businesses to flourish because of direct spending through earmarks in the tax code. We must also look at certain tax earmarks and expenditures on the books which allow entities, such as General Electric, to not only owe no federal taxes, but to also claim a multimillion dollar tax benefit.

I also believe a balanced plan must include a mechanism to force Congress and the president to live within our nation's means. That's why I have long supported a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

As I mentioned earlier, I have been trying to get the attention of Congress and past and present administrations on the debt crisis facing our country. My message has been simple: If America continues on its debt and deficit track, we edge closer and closer to the financial cliff and cede our standing as the world's leading nation.

I have called for a bipartisan solution that puts all options on the table and fully addresses ways to reverse our current deficit spending track and also our nation's unfunded obligations, which are the real drivers of our debt. This includes all entitlements--Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid--and other mandatory spending, defense spending, discretionary spending, and tax policy, namely the closing of tax loopholes and tax earmarks.

The Bowles-Simpson commission offered a plan with everything on the table, and I was anxious to have the chance to vote on it, but the president, as did the Congress, walked away from the report last December of the very group he created. I was pleased to see the "Gang of Six'' senators pick up the broad outlines of Bowles-Simpson and continue to work together this year on a comprehensive deficit reduction plan. The news earlier today that the Gang of Six has offered a path forward and that a large group of senators from both sides of the aisle is reacting positively to the plan is very encouraging.

I do not want the United States to default from a failure to raise the debt limit. The full faith and credit of the United States is on the line. Without an agreement, the cost to every American to borrow will rise, from home loans to car loans to student loans; the checks the Treasury writes will pick winners and losers.

It is precisely because the stakes are so high that I vote today for H.R. 2560 with the fervent hope that it will force the president and the House and Senate to come together and embrace a realistic and balanced deficit and debt reduction plan like the one recommended by Bowles-Simpson and the Gang of Six that puts our nation on sound financial footing for not only today, but for our children and grandchildren's generations.


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