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May 17, 2011

Debt and Spending

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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, anyone who cares about the future of our country should pay attention to the debate we are having right now in Washington. The outcome of this debate will determine whether America goes the way of debt-ridden countries in Europe where unemployment is permanently high and expectations are permanently low or whether we will claim our role as a place where people are rewarded for hard work and for taking risks.

This debate is important for other reasons too. Last month, one of the major ratings agencies gave the United States a negative outlook. It said that because of our debt, we stand a one-in-three chance of being downgraded. The consequences of that would be truly devastating, and so would the impact on our ability to govern. If we allow it to happen, we will be admitting that America cannot solve its problems. I won't accept that.

The fact that we have a crisis is not in doubt. Right now, America is taking in about $2.2 trillion each year in tax revenues, and each year we are spending about $2.2 trillion on mandatory spending programs and net interest on our debt.

What that means is that all of the other spending--every single discretionary dollar we spend right now on

[Page: S2897]  GPO's PDF
roads, schools, defense, food safety, environmental protection--all of it, every single penny is borrowed money. We do not have a dime to spend above and beyond the dimes we have to spend by law. If that is not a fiscal crisis, I do not know what is.

The Democrats' solution to this crisis is simple: raise the debt limit--raise the debt limit--so we can maintain the status quo. In fact, the chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers said in a speech yesterday that it would be ``quite insane'' to do anything about the deficit while increasing the debt ceiling. That from the chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers yesterday.

The problem with that is it is not a solution. It is the avoidance of a solution, and that is not what the American people want. The American people spoke loudly and clearly in November. They want to see changes around here. Washington is mortgaging their future and their children's future by spending too much. They did not speak out last November because they expected Republicans to come here and raise taxes. They sent Republicans here to get our fiscal house in order, and that is what we intend to do.

Americans are still outraged that Washington did not do something to prevent the last financial crisis--a crisis most people did not see coming. Failing to prevent one that every one of us knows is coming is, of course, totally inexcusable.

So my message has been clear: Failing to do something about the debt would be far worse in the long run than failing to raise the debt limit, and that is why I am repeating my plea to the Democrats this morning: The time to avert this crisis is right now. The window is closing. We cannot raise the debt ceiling, as the President has requested, without major spending cuts now.

Some have suggested we use triggers. Well, the triggers have already been pulled. What good is a fire alarm that goes off after the building burns down? Agreeing to a trigger is to deny this crisis. We need to face this problem now--not tomorrow, not after the President leaves office, not after the markets collapse, not after hell breaks loose, not after we lose another 3 million jobs and the housing market collapses again--now, right now. Anything less would be a dereliction of duty and a signal to the world that America does not have the will to fix its problems. Republicans refuse to accept that.

That has been my message all along. That is a message we will be taking down to the White House later this morning.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

(Senate - May 12, 2011)

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