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Public Statements

Balancing the Budget

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GARRETT. I thank the gentleman for not only managing the floor tonight with regard to this conference, but also with regard to all your great work with regard to trying to push forward the BBA, making sure we get over the goal line this time.

As the chairman and founder of the Constitutional Caucus, we rarely come to the floor to advocate for an amendment to the Constitution, but that's exactly what we're doing here tonight. It brings us here tonight because the United States Government has what? Just as the other speakers have said, overspent, overborrowed, and overtaxed, putting this Nation on the road to fiscal ruin. Yet, as much as that is true, there are many who believe that the solution going forward is even more of the same: more spending, more borrowing, more taxation. And only here in Washington, DC, could that ever be given serious consideration.

American families are not given that luxury. American families have to do what? They have to live within their means or face fiscal disaster in their family pocketbook. So, too, here in the United States Government we should live within our means as well; but unfortunately, today, as you saw the previous chart and previous speaker, we have been incapable of doing that. And that is why we're here tonight because we know we must force ourselves to do so through a balanced budget amendment.

Now, step back. Amending the Constitution is a difficult process. It should not be entered into lightly. The process reflects the Founders' commitment to republican self-government while protecting what? The integrity of the supreme law of the land.

And so in the spirit, then, of the Founders' vision for an amendment to the Constitution, we support tonight a balanced budget amendment as the only solution to excessive and irresponsible spending that we've seen go on for far too long. And yet we hear from the other side of the aisle and the other House--Senate majority leader called the balanced budget amendment a radical new idea. But how radical is it really? Radical? Well, 49 States in this country have some form of a balanced budget amendment, and they realize they must abide by it to live within their means.

A new idea? Well, indeed, Thomas Jefferson is the intellectual forefather of the balanced budget amendment. So we can go back some 200 years. Back in 1798, when Jefferson wrote to Virginia Senator John Taylor that the solution to then-extravagant spending was a constitutional amendment eliminating the power of the Federal Government to incur debt, he went on to say:

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 article, taking from the Federal Government the power of borrowing.

Now, the balanced budget amendment is the Jeffersonian solution, therefore, to today's debt crisis. And yet, when you think about it, the amount of spending and overspending that they had in Jefferson's time pales in comparison to the reckless spending that we have today and the reckless and fiscal ineptitudes that we see going on in Washington.

According to CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, the government will spend nearly--get this--$1.5 trillion this year more than it takes in. And if we refuse to balance our budget, as your amendment would do, what will happen over the next 10 years? Almost $9.5

trillion in additional red ink will be added to the bottom line.

So, in conclusion, the choice I think is clear: Either we continue down the same road with blissful disregard of the warnings of financial catastrophe that we've seen, or we do what? We amend the Constitution to require a balanced budget and put the United States back on the road to sustainability and also prosperity.

So let's make the balanced budget amendment the 28th Amendment to the Constitution.


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