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Mr. Speaker, at this moment we are beginning debate on a measure which I believe will finally send a signal to job creators in this country and in the global marketplace that we are finally, finally getting serious about getting our fiscal house in order.
We know that we are dealing with a very sad 9.2 percent unemployment rate in this country. We know that there are people hurting.
We all have constituents who have lost their homes, people who have lost their jobs, people who have lost their businesses, people are hurting.
It is absolutely imperative that we do everything that we can to get our economy back on track. We have just gotten the report, this downward report of the GDP growth rate down to 1.3 percent. We need to get back to robust, dynamic, strong, gross domestic product growth. We need to get to 4, 5, 6 percent GDP growth.
And, Mr. Speaker, one of the main reasons that we have not done that is we have seen this dramatic increase in spending. And over the past half century, on 75 different occasions, 75 different occasions, we have seen our debt ceiling increased without any effort whatsoever to get at the root cause of why it is that we have had to increase the debt ceiling.
I argue, Mr. Speaker, that we don't have a debt ceiling problem; we have a debt problem.
That's why we're here today, and that's why I believe that after months and months and months of partisan bickering, finger-pointing, we have at this moment begun a debate that will allow us in a bipartisan way to increase the debt ceiling, which we all know needs to be done. It simply is meeting the obligation of paying for past spending. Many of us have been opponents of much of that spending, but we recognize that the bill has to be paid.
Speaker Boehner, when just days after we took the oath of office in the 112th Congress, received the request from the President of the United States, through his Treasury Secretary, Mr. Geithner, that we increase the debt ceiling. The Speaker said then that he would agree that it's essential for us to increase the debt ceiling but we were not going to proceed with business as usual. We are not going to continue increasing the debt without getting to the root cause of the problem.
Mr. Speaker, I have got to tell you that through all of the debate that's taken place, we have gotten to the point where we have a measure. It's a bipartisan compromise. It's a bipartisan agreement that I believe will, as I have said, send a signal to those who are seeking to create jobs for our fellow Americans that we now are going to have the kind of fiscal restraint and responsibility from Washington, D.C., the likes of which we haven't seen in a long, long period of time.
Mr. Speaker, I will tell you that I strongly support this measure. As everyone has said, it's far from perfect, but I strongly support it, and I urge my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans alike, to join together in support of it.
I reserve the balance of my time.
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