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Establishing the Commission on Freedom of Information Act Processing Delays-Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

The last 2 years--2 1/2 years--have been remarkable in a lot of ways. We have seen a lot of things around our country that are beginning to change the political landscape in Washington.

After President Obama's election, with a lot of fanfare and hope attached, we saw a lot of changes begin in Washington--a lot of new spending with huge stimulus plans that clearly have not worked. We have seen a takeover of the health care system and the financial system.

But what we saw across America is what encouraged me. We saw millions of Americans, from all spectrums of politics, united, coming together for tea party rallies and townhalls. They were concerned about our country. They were concerned about the spending and the borrowing and the debt. In these groups were liberals and Libertarians and Independents and Republicans and Democrats--people with all political beliefs who knew intuitively, instinctively, in their guts, that, in Washington, we couldn't keep spending more than we were bringing in without bankrupting our country.

I joined a lot of those groups around the country, and these were hardly radical people. They were commonsense Americans from all walks of life who were just concerned about what we were doing in Washington. They wanted us to get control of the spending and debt. We saw a lot of people in Washington ignore what was going on. But across the country, many Republicans, and even some Democrats, were listening to what they were saying and made strong commitments that if they were elected to the House or the Senate, they would come and get control of the spending and the borrowing and the debt and try to return to some fiscal sanity, some concept of constitutional limited government that we promise people when we take our oath of office and that we would stand by it. So we saw many new Republicans come to the House and to the Senate with a commitment to get control of the spending and debt, to save our country from this obvious bankruptcy we are headed toward.

The tea party was involved with that. It is hard for me to listen to a lot of the criticism of the tea party and their desire to balance the budget. There is no one tea party. What we are talking about are thousands of citizen groups across this country who are being vigilant about their government, which is what our Founders asked them to be. They are not radical people. They are very commonsense people, and they understand what we are doing in Washington is about to destroy the country.

The tea party is being used a lot to suggest it is a small, radical group that is controlling some in the Republican Party. Over 70 percent of Americans agree with them--that we should balance our budget, that we should cut spending and send a balanced budget amendment to the States to ratify. For every person who says they are part of a tea party, there are hundreds of Americans who feel the same way who share those ideals of constitutional limited government and the concern and real fear that what we have been doing in Washington is taking our country literally to the brink.

It is deeply disturbing to hear the Vice President refer to tea parties as terrorists, as he did today, holding a gun to the heads of Republicans and forcing us to make cuts. Clearly, Vice President Biden and many here are not listening to what Americans are saying, and they are trying to diminish what Americans are saying by suggesting this is part of one small group.

The President showed right away this year, even after the November election, that he wasn't listening. He sent a budget to Congress that increased the debt another $10 trillion by his measures but actually another $15 trillion if we look at it in any kind of objective way. When the Republicans in the House demanded that they keep their commitment to cut $100 billion the first year, what did the President do? He said he would meet halfway, at $30 billion. He doesn't think we need to cut anything. He thinks we need to increase spending, and that is what he has been doing.

This is the second crisis we have had this year. The first was that year's budget, where we came right to the edge of closing the government because the President and the Democrats did not want to cut anything--at least in the negotiations we see. If they are going to meet us halfway between 100, they start below zero if they end up at 30. They are not with us, and it is hard to negotiate with people who don't understand that we truly do have a problem.

Washington, as Senator Rubio said, has a debt problem, but America has a jobs problem. One of the things we need to understand is, if we could stop growing the government, we could start growing the economy. More jobs would mean more tax revenue and less debt. But, unfortunately, this President continues to make things much worse. He wants to continue to spend and borrow, but he will not take responsibility for his spending. He has failed to lead and he loves to blame others. Sure, he inherited some problems--every President does. George W. Bush before him inherited a recession. Reagan inherited double-digit inflation, double-digit interest rates. Yet they moved to solve the problems. The difference is, Obama continues, after 2 1/2 years, to blame others and his policies continue to make things worse.

Let's talk about this debt ceiling for a minute, this debt crisis, and try to set the record straight. Clearly, President Obama has failed to lead in this whole process. We do need to remember, while he is trying to blame others for this debt ceiling problem, that it was a Democratic Congress and the President who signed into law the current debt limit we have. This was not a Republican-created problem that we have. Then, for the last 4 1/2 years, Obama and the Democrats had control of spending, so they set the debt limit, and they have spent the money to take us up to the debt limit.

We have known for the last 6 months that we needed to deal with this problem. Yet the President submitted no plan at all. He just asked Congress to rubberstamp an increase of $2.4 trillion in our debt, to borrow another $2.4 trillion, and, he said, with no strings attached. He didn't want to cut anything when this whole debate started--no leadership; 6 months, no plan, just speeches, trying to shift the blame.

He likes to ignore the fact that the House passed a bill that would solve our problem. It was a bill called Cut, Cap, and Balance. It cut spending right now, it controlled spending out over the next 10 years, and it sends a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution to the States to ratify. The response from the Democrats in the Senate and President Obama was truly astounding. The President says he wants a balanced solution, but he does not want a balanced budget. He has actually called us extreme for wanting to balance the budget, and, he said, we can do our job without a constitutional requirement to balance the budget. We can do a job on America, but we are not doing the job we were sent to do, and we certainly have proved we cannot control spending unless it is by law that requires us to do that.

Even though this bill passed the House by a large number, with some Democratic support, and it gave the President a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt limit but only if we cut spending and controlled it and created some permanent accountability,

we sent it to the Senate, and the leader of the Democratic Party would not even allow it on the floor for any debate because he saw the polls. He saw that already, within just a couple days, that 70 percent or nearly 70 percent of Americans supported the approach of cutting and controlling spending and creating some permanent accountability. So it was pushed aside so we could make some more backroom deals, with no transparency, no accountability, no leadership.

I commend Speaker Boehner, Leader McConnell, the Republicans who have worked through this process. Dealing with people who will not put a plan on the table is very difficult. The Republicans passed cut, cap, and balance. Then they followed up with another plan that was not so good, but it was a plan, and it did not even get past the front door in the Senate.

For 6 months, no plan from the President, no plan from the Democrats. Now we have gotten a deal with a partner who does not want to cut spending, after a November election where we were sent here, and the country pleaded with us to get control of spending, borrowing, and debt.

We can look at this deal two ways. There are two realities. From any Washington standard, this is a historic sea change in the way we do business. Instead of what we were doing last year, where we were talking about how much more we could spend and how much porkbarrel bacon we could take home, at least this year we are talking about the fact that we need to cut spending. So we can say the deal makes progress in that respect.

But in the real world, a dollars and cents world, we have to realize our country is on a path toward bankruptcy right now. We are projecting adding another $10 trillion or $15 trillion to our debt. No one is going to lend us that amount of money. We do not have 10 years. This deal does not change that trajectory at all. We will still borrow $10 trillion or more in the next 10 years. We will still add $1 trillion a year to our debt.

We cannot call this a debt reduction bill. We can not even call it a spending reduction bill. For the next couple years, it hardly cuts anything. When we talk about cutting in Washington, we are not cutting spending from where it is today; we are reducing the rate of increase that is planned. So it is important we tell the truth to the American people that while this deal may be the best we can do--with the leadership in the White House, or lack thereof, as well as the leadership, or lack thereof, in the Senate--it may be the best political solution we can get, but it does not solve America's problem. It certainly does not solve America's job problem, and it does nothing but add another $10 trillion to our debt if we are able to go that far.

I will be voting against this bill because I do not believe we have 10 years to try to get it right. I think it is very likely, over the next year or two or three, that we are going to reach a very real debt limit when no one will lend us any more money.

Today, in America, we have to borrow $140 billion a month in order to pay our regular bills. The people who are adding to that debt every month think it is extreme to balance their checkbook. It is time we get our House in order and force this Congress, by the Constitution, to balance its budget. We cannot continue to spend more than we are bringing in and expect to reduce our debt. That is the inside Washington mentality.

This deal is not a good deal for America. It may be the best deal Washington can come up with, with the current leadership, but it puts our country at risk. But in a Washington where there is no leadership in the White House, there is no accountability, and there is someone sitting in the Oval Office who will not take responsibility for anything, this may be a deal we have to accept for now.

I intend to vote against it because it is important we tell America the truth; that this puts our country at risk. It is time we do what is best for America, not what makes the best deal in Washington. I would encourage my colleagues to vote against this deal, even though I know they already have the votes. But I hope when this is passed, we will not think for 1 minute we have solved the problem, we will not try to convince Americans that now we have a few more years to spend and borrow without any repercussions.

We need to immediately get back to the debate that was getting America involved in the last election, which was balancing our budget and getting some fiscal sanity in Washington. While we are in desperate straits in our country right now, and we see our economy getting worse because of the policies of this administration, the good news is this: We can solve this problem with one more good election. That is what I am looking forward to: taking my case to the American people and the case they sent us here to make to this Congress, that we need one more election to finish the job they started in 2010. If they want us to get control of spending and borrowing and debt, we need a few more good people, such as the House freshmen who have stood their ground on this whole debate and those who have come in here in the Senate and have led the way for a balanced budget. It is that day I am looking forward to because on that day, we will once again, hopefully, listen to America, get our House in order, balance our budget, and do what is best for our country.

I yield back.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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