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Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, President Obama recently told the Speaker of the House of Representatives that we do not have a spending problem. Last week he told ABC News that we do not have an immediate crisis in terms of the debt. These comments indicate that the President just does not seem to understand the negative impact of $16.5 trillion in debt on our economy.

For that matter, based on the new budget, Senate Democrats do not seem to get it either. Not only would the budget that was passed out of the Senate Budget Committee last week raise taxes by an additional $1.5 trillion, it would also increase Federal spending by roughly 60 percent and increase our national debt by $7.3 trillion.

I should say that as bad as it is, the budget that was passed out of the Budget Committee last week represents progress. How could I possibly say that? Because it has been 1,419 days since the Senate has passed a budget under Democratic control.

So I guess we could say actually passing a budget out of the Budget Committee and having the budget come to the floor this week represents progress.

The reason I said Democrats have raised taxes again--or proposed an additional revenue increase in this budget--is because they already did so previously by $1 trillion with the passage of ObamaCare. In my experience, ObamaCare is unique compared to other legislation we have passed here. We passed it in 2009 and early 2010. Many of its provisions have yet to even kick in, and some of the provisions--including the tax increases--will not kick in until 2014. As I said, it will raise taxes by an additional $1 trillion.

Earlier this year--we know as a result of the fiscal-cliff vote at the end of December--there was an additional $620 billion tax increase at that time, but apparently that was not enough. There is an important lesson here. For those who believe that bigger and more government is the answer to every problem that confronts our country, more taxes is never enough. In fact, the Leviathan is insatiable.

This debate comes down to a basic philosophy in how we should govern ourselves as a free people. Our friends on the other side of the aisle seem to be focused incessantly on the government and growing the government in the hope that if the Federal Government spends enough money--even if the money is borrowed from our creditors--some of that might trickle down into the private sector economy. Meanwhile, this side of the aisle fundamentally believes it is the job creation in the private sector which helps grow the economy and creates opportunity and prosperity. We look for ways to rein in wasteful Washington spending to a more sustainable level so it stops hampering private sector investment and job creation.

I wish to ask President Obama: If we don't have a spending problem, why is it we have accumulated more than $6 trillion in additional debt since you took office about 4 years ago? If we don't have a spending problem, why is it we still have $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities because of programs that literally are not funded into the future? Why is it that today we are spending more than $200 billion a year on interest payments on the debt? We cannot borrow $16.5 trillion interest free. Even at the low interest rates we have today, we are paying $200 billion a year on interest on that debt.

Is the President arguing we should postpone measured spending cuts and measured entitlement reforms until we have experienced a full-blown European-style meltdown? I hope not. I don't think so because that would be grossly irresponsible. I will remind the President and his allies that after $4 trillion in deficits--that would be the annual difference between what we bring in and what the government spends. After four times in a row of deficits that are more than $1 trillion, after more than $1.6 trillion in tax increases, after hundreds of billions of dollars worth of new regulations, our country is mired; we are mired in the longest period of high unemployment since the Great Depression. That is a direct consequence of this huge debt and our creditors' lack of confidence that we are actually serious about dealing with it.

Indeed, many workers have simply given up on finding work, which is one reason why our labor force participation rate is now at a 32-year low. Unemployment is almost 8 percent, but that doesn't take into account the millions of people who have simply given up looking for work after a long period of unemployment.

Since June 2009 when the recession officially ended, median household income has fallen by more than $2,400. So instead of treading water, the average American family is seeing their buying power decrease by more than $2,400 since 2009. At the same time they are finding that not only are their taxes going up with the return of the payroll tax to its previous level, but they are finding their costs for gasoline, food, and the other necessities of life are going up. Does this sound like an economy that can stand another massive tax increase? I don't think so.

President Obama said to ABC News that we should not try to balance the budget ``just for the sake of balance.'' Well, once again, the President was knocking down a straw man. We weren't talking about doing something symbolic; we were talking about doing something real, something that would benefit the economy and job growth and getting people back to work instead of dependency, which I know none of them want. We see more and more people on food stamps, more people receiving disability benefits, and more people on unemployment. These are people who would like to get back to work and regain their sense of dignity and self-sufficiency, but because the economy is growing so slowly, they cannot do that. We believe that balancing the budget and reducing our debt burden is absolutely essential to long-term economic growth--long-term economic growth--which creates more jobs, more taxpayers, and people who are actually putting money into the Treasury to help us balance our deficits.

We also believe that balancing the budget and reducing our debt burden is essential to saving important programs our seniors depend upon, such as Medicare and Social Security. If we want to remain an opportunity society with high levels of upward mobility--something we call the American dream--we must act sooner rather than later. The longer we delay, the more expensive and the more difficult the challenge of fixing these problems will become. Again, the basic question is: Are we more concerned with growing the job-creating private sector or with growing the Federal Government?

The budget that passed out of the Senate Budget Committee--along a party-line vote with strictly the votes of Democrats--last week makes it clear they are ultimately more concerned with growing the Federal Government. We will have a chance on the floor of the Senate this week for Democrats and Republicans alike to offer amendments and get votes, which I think will provide a lot of clarity to the contrasting approaches of the major political parties.

We have simply had the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression, and so it is now time to do something different. I cannot recall who the original author was of the saying that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and to expect different outcomes. Well, if that is the definition of insanity, that is what is happening here in the U.S. Congress. It is time to put economic growth ahead of government growth.

I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.


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