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GOP Women's Hour: A Balanced Budget Amendment

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. I thank the gentlelady from Ohio for yielding to me, and I congratulate her for her leadership on this very important fiscal issue that really permeates throughout our society and throughout our families and throughout the entire budgetary crisis that we find ourselves in.

I'm so pleased that for the first time in nearly 15 years the House will be voting this week on a constitutional amendment to balance the Federal budget. As a mother and a grandmother, I have long supported this proposal. It will ensure that we fix the burden--and that's what it is, the burden of endless deficits that has fallen on future generations. Unfortunately, as you know, Mrs. Schmidt, the need for this amendment has never been greater. A constitutional amendment can set us on a path to long-term fiscal stability and restore confidence after decades of deficits.

Two years ago, the United States experienced its first trillion-dollar Federal budget deficit. We thought things were bad then. Last year, we experienced our second trillion-dollar deficit. We thought things were bad then. This year, our annual deficit has reached over $1.3 trillion, the third trillion-dollar-plus deficit in our Nation's history. It took the United States over 200 years, from the presidency of George Washington to the presidency of Bill Clinton, to amass the amount of debt that was added since the year 2006. That is shocking. And according to the U.S. Treasury Department, our Nation's debt currently stands at nearly $15 trillion. Think of that astronomical amount, $15 trillion, which amounts to--how much is that per person? Because the figure is so large that we can't fathom, we can't really appreciate what it is. It amounts to a $47,900 tax for every living American. The debt has sharply increased to nearly 100 percent this year, the highest level since World War II. These are alarming statistics.

Growing debt increases the probability of a sudden fiscal crisis during which investors would lose confidence and the government could lose its ability to borrow at affordable rates. If we do nothing, the annual deficit will grow to consume nearly one-fifth of the entire U.S. economy, and the debt would grow to Greece-like levels of over 100 percent. I believe that just as our families and neighbors--like the lady you show there on that poster--have had to tighten our belts during this recession, well, then, the Federal bureaucracy must do the same.

While the budget reforms that we have passed in the House were a good start, only a constitutional amendment can ensure that we will not stray from the path of a balanced budget as we did 10 years ago. A constitutional amendment will help ensure a future of stability for our children and for our grandchildren.

So I urge all of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to vote in favor of this balanced budget amendment. It's history in the making this week, and I thank Mrs. Schmidt for her leadership and for trying to straighten out this fiscal insanity mess that we find ourselves in.


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