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Public Statements

Balanced Budget Amendment

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mrs. HARTZLER. Washington has a problem. It spends more than it brings in, and it has been doing that for a long time. That's why we are over $15 trillion in debt. That's over $46,000 of debt for every American man, woman, and child. Washington is currently borrowing 36 cents out of every dollar it spends, and under President Obama, our national debt has increased 34 percent. That's the fastest increase in the debt under any U.S. President in history.

Our government is digging a hole it might never get out of. We don't have the money, yet Big Government hasn't been able to restrain itself and keeps putting more and more of its spending on a credit card--our children's credit card.

Our national debt-to-GDP ratio rivals that of countries like Ireland, Portugal, and Greece, which are facing sovereign debt crises. Soon our Nation's Federal debt will equal our GDP. It is a losing proposition. It's like
someone's total credit card debt equalling the total amount of income that they bring in each year.
And so what do people do? If they do that at home, unfortunately a lot of people go and get another credit card and they borrow money from that to pay the minimum on the first credit card. But then they have to go and get another credit card to pay the minimum on that one to pay the minimum on that one. It doesn't work. It spirals down and down until finally it ends in bankruptcy. It's unsustainable.

Most American families understand that. They live within their means. Washington should, too.

I grew up watching my mom and my dad wrestle with balancing the budget on our family farm. They would sit down around the kitchen table at the start of the year and develop a cash flow projection for the upcoming year listing the expenses that would be necessary to put in the crops and projecting the anticipated yields and prices to see how we were going to fare and to ensure that we didn't go over budget.

Then my parents would monitor it throughout the year to see how it was doing. My mother would spend hours with her pencil erasing and adjusting the budget as conditions changed either up or down. They used to make my sister and me sit down and participate in the process with them. And I can tell you, as a child, we weren't that thrilled with this tedious task because sometimes it would take hours. But now I'm thankful that they did, and they had the foresight to teach us the importance of balancing a budget.

I conveyed that importance to my students when I used to teach personal family finance as a home economics teacher. I told the students that when you budget, the expenses shouldn't be more than the income. They got it. Washington should, too.

Now we have the opportunity this week to bring the common sense and the business sense of American families and American small businesses to Washington to force it to live within its means by passing the balanced budget amendment. I firmly believe that this constitutional amendment is the best way to restrain the out-of-control Federal spending of Big Government. Forty-nine States have some form of a balanced budget requirement, and it works for them. I know it works for Missouri, and I believe it will work in our Nation's capital, too.

When I was a Missouri State representative, we budgeted according to the revenue projection given us and designed our budget to match the income. If we didn't have the money, we didn't spend it. Because of that, Missouri is on sound financial footing. Clearly, Washington is not because it has failed to balance its budget.

Passing the balanced budget amendment will force Washington to cut up these credit cards and to start living within its means. Families are tightening their belts at home to make ends meet. Our Federal Government needs to do likewise.

President Ronald Reagan understood the importance of the balanced budget amendment. He said, ``Only a constitutional amendment will do the job. We've tried the carrot, and it failed. With the stick of a balanced budget amendment, we can stop government squandering, overtaxing ways, and save our economy.''

That's why I am excited about this historic vote that we're going to take tomorrow, and I urge all of my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, to get behind this commonsense provision that will set us back on the path to a strong financial footing. Now is the time to stop the reckless course that we are on and get things right. I look forward to applying the cash-flow knowledge I learned around the kitchen table as a child to our Federal budget. It worked at home. It's time to make it work in Washington.

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