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Public Statements

The Budget

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. President, I thank the Senator for the opportunity.

I commend Senator Risch for his remarks. I want to make a little addition to those remarks in a second. But specifically, in answer to Senator Johanns' question, the only thing you can do with this budget is start over.

Senator Risch has very importantly recognized the 10-year fiasco we look at every year by pushing savings out into years 8, 9, and 10, when this President will not be here and another Congress will be here.

In talking about compromise, one of the things Senator Shaheen from New Hampshire and I have pushed for 2 years is a process 40 States operate under, including the Senator's, if I am not mistaken, I say to Mr. Johanns, and that is a biennial budget process. So instead of talking about 10 years, you are talking about 2 years. Instead of talking about appropriating every year, you appropriate in 1 year for 2 years, and in the second year--which happens to be the election year, or the even unnumbered year--your total obligation is to look for savings, efficiencies, and the fine functioning of the government.

We do not ever do in this Congress what our families do and our children do every year at home. We do not ever sit around our kitchen table, reprioritize our expenditures based on our needs, and find out how to live within our means. The American people do not get the luxury of printing money. Japan does not come in and buy notes to fund their money. They have to figure out how they themselves can manage their budget in such a way as to live within the income they have and not go into big debt. The United States of America ought to do the same.

One of the things Senator Risch hit on that I want to hammer on for a second--because there is a big part of our problem that is solvable; and it is solvable if good people would be willing to talk about it rather than politic about it--is known as entitlements.

Entitlements are Social Security, welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, retirement disabilities, et cetera. But two of them are not entitlements. Two of them are obligations of the United States of America. That is not an entitlement. That is something somebody has paid for. America's people pay 6.2 percent of their payroll normally--except for the recent holiday we have had--to go into a Social Security trust fund to pay them a benefit. They pay 1.35 percent of their income every month--from day one, since 1968--to pay for Medicare. Those are not entitlements they are entitled to. Those are obligations we have committed them to from moneys they have paid.

This document we are looking at in this budget does not portend a single change in benefits or in obligations for Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, which simply means the day they go broke comes that much faster. We are defaulting on the obligation we have to the American people. Whereas, if we sat down honestly, put those programs on the table, looked at the outyears, when my grandchildren and children may be beneficiaries, and modify the obligation, pushing out the eligibility, we can save the obligation we owe the American people for Social Security and Medicare. But if we do not do it, it will be gone. That is something they paid for that we took out of the trust fund and used for something else--not the least of which was the $500 billion the President took out of the trust fund for Medicare to help pay for the affordable health care bill, which has not even gone into effect yet.

I think it is time we ask of ourselves what the American people have to ask of themselves: Sit around our kitchen table, decide what our priorities are, live within our means, and budget for the future. Do not budget for failure. This is budgeting for failure.


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