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Public Statements

Proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. THORNBERRY. Madam Speaker, it would be a mistake to believe that a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution will solve all of our fiscal woes. There are no magic answers to what ails us. Fiscal discipline and common sense applied day-by-day, year-by-year are required.

A Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution would, however, help impose the discipline needed on the taxing and spending decisions of the federal government. It would be a very significant step--perhaps one of the most significant we could take--in repairing our fiscal house.

It forces Congress and the President to make choices. If new spending is proposed, other spending must be cut or some other way to finance the new program must be found.

A basic principle for individuals, businesses, and other organizations is that one should not spend more than one has to spend, except in extraordinary circumstances. That is common sense. Yet, for too long, that principle has been commonly absent from Washington. This vote on this Amendment is our opportunity to apply this basic idea to the federal government. We should do it now.

Mr. POSEY. Madam Speaker, nearly every State in the union is required to balance its budget each year, including my home State of Florida. Our counties, cities, school boards and special districts are all required to make financially responsible decisions with the hard-earned tax dollars of Florida's working families and small businesses.

It is long past due for Washington to do the same, which is why the Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is one of the first bills I cosponsored as a new Member of Congress in 2009.

For 235 years, the United States has been the greatest economic success story the world has ever known. Yet, the most significant threat ever to our continued success is our unprecedented and rapidly growing national debt. From 1776 to 2008, Washington accumulated a debt of $10.6 trillion. Yet in just the last 3 years alone, another $4.4 trillion in debt has been added for a grand total of $15 trillion and counting.

Washington doesn't just have a spending problem. It has an insatiable addiction to spending money it does not have and it is threatening our children's future. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called it the greatest threat to our Nation.

The last time the House voted on and passed a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution--back in 1997--the national debt stood at $5.4 trillion. That year the Balanced Budget Amendment fell just ONE VOTE short of passage in the Senate. It's something I like to call ``The Ten Trillion Dollar Vote.''

So, you might ask: How do these gigantic numbers relate to the American taxpayer? Because of Washington's failure to control spending, each and every taxpayer's share of the debt amounts to $130,000. It gets worse. On our current path, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the national debt will reach $23 TRILLION in 2015. That's $200,000 in debt per taxpayer. This must change.

The American people were promised in 1997 that Washington would balance the budget without a Balanced Budget Amendment. Given what we now know, it's ridiculous to believe that Washington will balance the budget and begin paying down the debt without the requirement of a Balanced Budget Amendment.

Future generations of Americans deserve to live with the same opportunities we have had. Burdening them with this unprecedented debt load is immoral and unthinkable. Only by passing a Balanced Budget Amendment can we eliminate their greatest threat to success and guarantee them the same opportunities that we have had.

I urge my colleagues to support the Balanced Budget Amendment and set our Nation on a more financially responsible and stable course.


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