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The National Deficit

Location: Washington, DC

THE NATIONAL DEFICIT -- (House of Representatives - January 26, 2005)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Barrow) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. BARROW. Mr. Speaker, I think it is appropriate that my first address to this body should be on a large subject, and there are few subjects larger than our national deficit.

The latest reports are forecasting a record $427 billion deficit, the largest budget deficit in our Nation's history. $427 billion is an amount so enormous that it is practically impossible for many to put it in context.

The simple fact is that we are spending more money than we are bringing in, and this is digging a hole that we are going to have a hard time getting out of.

This financial irresponsibility is punishing the prosperity for our future generations. When we are unable to pay our bills, we pass that burden on to our children and grandchildren, strapping them with a deficit that grows higher each day.

Mr. Speaker, continuing to run record deficits is dangerous, it is irresponsible, it is reckless; and we have a solemn responsibility to do better than this.

Every time we spend more money than we have or every time we borrow some record amount, we are trading short-term gains for long-term pain.

Before I was elected to Congress, I served 14 years on the Athens-Clarke County Commission. During that time I never once voted to increase taxes, and that is a record I am proud of. Not only that, I put together a perfect record of voting for balanced budgets, year after year; and that is also a record I am proud of.

On the commission, we kept taxes low, we kept the budget balanced, and we made the most out of the people's money. We treated the people's money the same way that working families and small businesses manage their money, we lived within our means.

We always kept one eye on the bottom line and one eye on the road ahead. When we made investments, we invested in the long-term future. When we borrowed money, we borrowed for long-term interests, not simply to pay that month's light bill.

Mr. Speaker, if working families can live within their means, or if a small city council of just 10 members can find a way not to spend more than they have, then the United States Congress ought to be able to do the same thing. It is not rocket science. It is just fiscal common sense and good government public service.

We have many commitments: we must continue to support our troops in the war on terror; we must keep the promise of Social Security; we must find ways to lower the tax burden for all of our working families. But we have to start keeping those commitments by using only the money that we have, without raising taxes and without forcing our children and grandchildren to pay our bills.

As we settle into the 109th Congress, we must commit ourselves to a sound policy of deficit reduction. I hope that my colleagues in the House will join me in working together to bring a new era of fiscal responsibility to this legislative body.

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