I come to the floor today in strong support of the Budget Control Act, a legislative approach that cuts out-of-control Washington spending and is a responsible and necessary plan to avoid a default on our nation’s debt.
As we all know, under President Obama we are experiencing our third straight year of deficits in excess of $1 trillion. In four years, President Obama’s actions and projected budgets will add more than twice to our debt than was added during the previous eight years. All told, the debt will double under President Obama’s watch and reach a staggering $26 billion by 2021. Congress must act to cut spending and get our debt under control, and that is what the legislation before us does.
First, the bill cuts more than $900 billion in federal spending and meets the expectations of the American people that we cut spending by more than we increase the debt limit.
Second, the bill guarantees that the House and Senate will vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment. More than half of the States have a balanced budget and it is time Washington’s books are balanced as well.
And third, the bill also demands reforms to the way Washington works by setting up a joint House and Senate committee to find at least an additional $1.6 trillion in savings. Its work-product would enjoy expedited consideration in the House and Senate and could not be filibustered.
I’d also like to take a moment to point out that, despite what you’ve heard from critics of this approach, that this is the most common way the debt limit has been increased – for a short duration and tied to spending reforms. History is clear on this point:
- Over the last twenty-five years, Congress and the President have acted 31 times to increase the debt limit.
- 22 of those 31 were for less than a year.
- Only three of those 31 increases lasted longer than two years.
These debt limit increases are often tied to spending reforms and are preceded by very short-term increases. Three examples of that include:
- In 1987, there were three short-term debt limit increases prior to a longer-term increase that included deficit targets and automatic sequestration provisions.
- In 1990, there were six very short-term increases prior to a longer-term increase that included PAYGO, discretionary caps, and other programmatic changes, and
- In 1996, there were two very short-term increases to ensure full funding of Social Security and other Federal funds prior to a longer-term increase included in the “Contract with America Advancement Act.”
So what we are doing today is perfectly in line with what Congress has done in the past. I would also point out that the increase in the debt limit and the binding process to achieve spending reform in Washington is exactly what the financial markets need and expect from us.
Time is short and this bill may be our last best chance to prevent a default. If we fail to act and the government defaults on its debt, the financial and economic shockwaves that will ripple across this country are both unpredictable and unimaginable.
Finally, I want to say a few words about something not in this bill – tax increases.
While the President continues to insist that tax increases be a part of any debt limit legislation, he has failed to convince even his own party that these tax hikes are a good idea. In December of last year, when Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate, Congress refused to raise taxes. And now, even Senator Reid’s own plan to increase the debt limit, which the President has thrown his weight behind, does not include tax increases.
Given the need to avoid default today and get our fiscal house in order for the future, we must pass the Budget Control Act. I urge a yes vote on the bill.