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Public Statements

Proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. BROWN of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Ranking Member for the time to speak on this horrible legislation. The supposed reason for bringing up this amendment is because this country has taken on a horrible debt over the last 12 years.

Let us not forget how we got in this mess. Institutional memory is in order. When you have your head in the lion's mouth, you ease it out. What happened? How did we get here? When President Clinton left, we were operating with a surplus. But we had 8 years of Bush and two wars and a deficit of $1.3 trillion.

Do you think this mess started when President Obama was elected? No, it did not.

We have been practicing what I call reverse Robin Hood for 10 years. Nobody remembers what happened here just last December? We gave $800 billion to not just millionaires, but to billionaires and now you complain that we are broke.

It is all about your priorities.

Under this balanced budget amendment, elderly citizens are not a priority. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security would have to compete against all other federal spending. A balanced budget would require Congress to cut all programs by an average of 17.3 percent by 2018. If spending cuts are spread proportionately, Medicare would be cut by about $750 billion, Social Security by almost $1.2 trillion, and veterans' benefits by $85 billion.

Transportation infrastructure is not a priority. We know for every billion dollars that we spend, it generates 44,000 permanent jobs. Without transportation infrastructure, we cannot compete on a global level. While private businesses and households borrow all the time to finance capital spending, a balanced budget amendment would prevent federal borrowing to finance any investment expenditures.

Our priorities are out of whack when we cannot agree to protect those who need our help the most: the poor, the working class and the sick.

I am hoping that the American people will wake up. It is shameful that over and over again in the people's House, in the people's House, we attack the people who do not have lobbyists on Capitol Hill. And so I yield back the balance of my time, but I do know that elections have consequences. The American people are watching you.

Do not support this sham of a policy.

Vote no on the Balanced Budget Amendment.


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