Videos & Speeches
Madam President, I have spoken several times over the last several weeks with regard to the issue at hand. Clearly, the time continues to escape us, and the day of reckoning is coming in regard to the debt ceiling issue. I have said from the very beginning that in my view it would be irresponsible not to raise the debt ceiling, but it would be as irresponsible if not more so to raise the debt ceiling without reducing the spending, getting our books more in balance, and moving us in the right direction toward a balanced budget in the future. I recognize this cannot be accomplished overnight, and I recognize there are those who bring different points of view and perspectives to the Senate floor. This is a body of people who represent individuals who live in all 50 States and have points of view and philosophies and backgrounds that are different than perhaps the constituents I represent from the State of Kansas.
I have been a strong supporter of the legislation entitled ``cut, cap, and balance.'' I actually believe it is not just cut, cap, and balance; it is cut, cap, balance, and grow. We could do so much for our country both in the fiscal sense and with the idea that we could better pay our bills if the revenues are increased by putting people to work, by creating a climate in which people could find jobs, people could improve their situation in regard to their jobs, and in the process of doing that the revenues increase to the Federal Treasury.
It was back in the days of President Clinton that we came the closest to having our books balanced. While there was spending restraint and disagreement among Republicans and Democrats about new spending programs or bigger government, in my view, the real reason we had a balanced budget was because the economy was growing.
So I again ask my colleagues to pay attention to what I believe was the message of the 2010 election: It is the economy. It is the desire of people to have a better life, to save money for their children's education, to save money for their retirement, and to be satisfied that the job they have today is the job they will have tomorrow.
I believe there is much that we can do with regard to the regulatory environment, making the Tax Code fair and certain, issues regarding access to credit, a trade policy that will allow us to increase exports--both agricultural and manufactured goods--and a trade policy that reduces our reliance on foreign energy and gives us greater control over its costs. The time has come for us to reach an agreement, and we anxiously await what action the House of Representatives may take.
In light of this point in time, I would like to share with my colleagues in the Senate an e-mail I received from one of my constituents, a Kansan named Gina Reynolds. Gina is from Shawnee. She expresses this point of view I think very appropriately for where we are today. In asking Gina if I could share with you what she wrote to me, she indicated this was the very first time she had ever written a Member of Congress. Here is what she had to say that I hope we will take into account. Again, while we bring philosophies and viewpoints and approaches to government to Washington, DC, there is an opportunity for common sense and good judgment to prevail.
Here is what she says:
I firmly believe the United States needs to start living within our means. However, I am frustrated beyond belief with the inability of Congress to do their jobs and ensure that we do not throw the country back into recession. While I and my husband are employed, we feel lucky to have jobs. We work hard, pay our taxes and try to raise our children the right way. It absolutely boggles my mind that we cannot come to a compromise on the debt ceiling issue that is so critical to the financial markets and the average American citizen.
For it is us, the middle class, that will suffer the most from lost jobs to lost 401Ks, and lost savings. We need real tax reform, real entitlement reform (for even though I am 42 years old, I do not believe I will ever see a dime of Social Security) and real spending cuts. Congress has had months to work on this issue, and now the time is to act in the best interests of the People, not the political interest groups, not some ideology.
It is sad to say, but I honestly don't know if my children will have a better future than me. I know that there are a lot of tough decisions yet to be made regarding spending and taxes, but we only make it harder by defaulting on any of our country's obligations. I am fiscally conservative and generally vote Republican, but I do not blindly follow any one path. I try to use my vote wisely and pledge my loyalty to my God and my country, not a political party.
I believe we have the greatest country on Earth, but our inability to compromise, to stop acting like spoiled children, saddens me. The Founding Fathers were able to compromise and write a document that has stood the test of time for 235 years. Can we not now do the same? Please do the right thing for the American People, the ones frustrated and angry and hurt by this self-produced impasse.
I thank Gina Reynolds for her message to me and Members of the Senate, for taking the time to communicate with her Senator, with me as a Member of Congress. I think she in many ways expresses a conservative yet commonsense point of view so many Kansans have.
I often think too many times we are caught in a circumstance that we find an inability to resolve. Sometimes we are trapped by our political party. In my view, while we ought to have strong opinions and ought to have a solid philosophy, we need to make certain that we are motivated for the right reasons and that the good of America is at the forefront of our minds.
I indicated in my maiden speech when I spoke here on the Senate floor 4 months ago as a new Senator that when I need a perspective as to what we need to do here--and sometimes we get bogged down in those things that are a lot less important--I will put my walking shoes on, my running shoes, and I will walk up to the Lincoln Memorial. You go by the World War II Memorial, you walk on past the Vietnam Wall, and you walk by the Korean War Memorial, and in each one of those locations, I am reminded that no American memorialized in those settings fought and died, sacrificed for their country for purposes of Republicans or Democrats but because they believed they had an obligation to serve our country and because they believed that in that service, they had the opportunity to make life better for their family and for future generations of Americans.
We need to remind ourselves that we need that perspective. It is not a fight between the Republicans and Democrats. It is about doing what is right for America. We owe it to those who sacrificed in military service for our country, and particularly those who have died in that service. We will do what is right. I know my colleagues share that point of view. I think from time to time we have to be reminded about what the priorities have to be and what the focus must be.
Again, I appreciate the sentiments expressed by this Kansan and would indicate that we, as American citizens, and certainly me, as a Member of the Senate, our primary responsibility as citizens is to make certain we pass on to the next generation of Americans this country called the United States of America in which we maintain the freedoms and liberties guaranteed by our Constitution, and we allow the next generation of Americans, our children, our grandchildren, and young men and women yet to be born, people we don't even know, the opportunity to pursue the American dream.
I think this Kansas constituent of mine expressed those sentiments very well, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to see that we do what is right for the future of our Nation and that this next generation of Americans can pursue that which we all idolize and believe in, the American dream.
I yield back.