Videos & Speeches
Mr. President, thank you for recognizing me. I’m honored to once again be on the Senate floor. I’ve spoken many times on the issue that is before us for a vote in a few minutes. This is a significant point in our country’s financial history, a time in which politics has played its course and decisions have to be made.
I come here at this moment with no real joy. We put the American people through a lot, certainly over the last several months, as we asked them to follow us along as we discussed this idea of raising the debt ceiling. There was some thought by many of us that we could use this moment of raising the debt ceiling to make some significant changes in the way that we do business in Washington, D.C.
And in fact, on March 22 of this year, I wrote President Obama a letter indicating that I could not vote to raise the debt ceiling unless I saw substantial reductions in spending and structural changes in the way that we do business in the United States Congress and in Washington, D.C. And while I say there is no joy for me to be here today, in my view we have failed to do either one. There are no substantial reductions in spending, and there are no significant changes in the way that Washington, D.C. does business.
Mr. President, this country needs certainty. And I’ve said all along that we need to raise the debt ceiling. There needs to be that certainty. And I’ve said it would be irresponsible for us not to raise the debt ceiling, but I’ve said all along it would be equally as irresponsible if we raise the debt ceiling without meeting the criteria that I’ve outlined.
And while we’ll have a discussion among all of us that continues today, and we’ll probably play quarterback after this is over. But there are no cuts in this bill. There is only a reduction in the growth of spending, and that reduction is so small -- $21billion reduced in the first year in the growth and spending.
Now, in Kansas, we hear the word “billion” and we think that’s a lot of money, and it is. And so I think Kansans will hear that word, $21 billion, and think “they’re finally doing something significant.” But the truth is we spend $4 billion more each day than we take in, and that $21 billion, if realized in the slowing of growth of spending, will be gone in less than a week. This legislation does not cut spending.
And while we promote a balanced budget amendment, which I think is so critical to our success in changing the structure of how we do things here, there is no balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution in this or one that would necessarily be sent to the states for ratification.
Our national debt will continue to grow. And in fact, at the end of ten years, if everything in this legislation is accomplished – and I think we have to be skeptical about that – our national debt will grow and reach $22 trillion. Ten years from now with this legislation in place – $22 trillion. And over the next three decades, our debt will become three times the size of our entire economy.
You know, we’re talking about reducing the growth of spending by the amount that we’re raising the debt ceiling. But can you imagine a family back in Kansas congratulating themselves for changing the topic without ever changing their spending patterns? Kansas families, when they’re in trouble for spending too much money, they cut the budget today, and we are not doing that. They don’t just slow the growth and they don’t wait for ten years to see it realized. The problem is today. And I think this is a significant problem.
People will say that we need to raise the debt ceiling today or our credit worthiness will be judged by the rating agencies and we will be downgraded. I worry that even with the passage of this bill, its effects are so minimal in spending that the downgrade will occur regardless. Mr. President, this is a time for us to make the tough choices, as compared to kick the can down the road one more time.
It’s an honor to serve in the United States Senate. Nothing in my life, my background would ever suggest I’d have this opportunity. I am honored to serve Kansans here, and I will do my best to make the right decisions on their behalf. But as I listen to Kansans for the last two years on the topic of what’s important to them – the economy matters. And the first thing we have to do is get our fiscal house in order so that the economy can grow and people can find jobs and get better jobs.
And while my assumption based upon the news reports is that the legislation that I oppose will pass today, I pledge myself to my Kansas constituents that I will work hard to see that every dime that is possible to be saved occurs.
And I will redouble my efforts that we grow the economy and put Americans back to work. Because the revenues that we need to balance our books are not increases in taxes. The revenues we need to balance our books come from a strong and growing economy, so that every American today can put food on their family’s table, save for their children’s education and prepare for their own retirement, and be blessed with the opportunity in this country to see every American child be able to pursue the American dream.