Mr. Speaker, the federal government is broke. We borrow nearly 40 cents of every dollar we spend, our debt is more than $14 trillion and is averaging yearly trillion dollar deficits. We simply cannot afford to keep spending money we don’t have and we must bring down the debt. For years, this House, including legislators on both sides of the aisle, have kicked the can down the road. Americans were led to believe that we could spend hundreds of billions of dollars that we don’t have – and there would be no consequences. And when it came to fostering an atmosphere where American businesses could compete in the global economy, we became complacent.
This must stop. It’s time to be honest with the American people. We stand at a crossroads. Before us lie two divergent paths: one defined by crushing debt, slow growth and diminished opportunity; and one defined by achievement, innovation and American leadership. By demonstrating courage and directly confronting our challenges at this critical moment, we can fulfill the promise of America – and pass on to our children a nation that offers everyone a fair shot at earning their success.
The House Republican budget is an honest, fact-based proposal that details our vision for managing down our debt – and growing our way back to prosperity. First, we will stop spending money that we don’t have. This budget cuts non-security discretionary spending to below 2008 levels and freezes it for five years. Overall, we reach $6.2 trillion in savings against the President’s budget.
Second, we will lead where the President has failed by addressing our insolvent entitlement programs. We know that these programs are the biggest drivers of our debt and the Congressional Budget Office acknowledges that if we don’t take action, these important safety net programs will go broke. We cannot afford to ignore this oncoming fiscal train wreck any longer. While it may be seen by some as politically risky, Republicans are willing to lead because, to be frank, complacency is not an option.
To be clear, our plan will not touch benefits for today’s seniors and those nearing retirement. For those of us 54 and below, it calls for reforms that will restructure Medicare and Medicaid to ensure these safety nets will still be there for those who need it, not for those who don’t. Unlike the lofty outline the President gave in his speech, yesterday, our budget is not a political document; we do not dream up imaginary savings and dodge specifics in an effort to lull people into the belief that they can actually get things for nothing. Our budget gives a concrete plan for getting our fiscal house in order, and we don’t resort to tax increases on the very small businesses and job creators we need to put America back to work unlike the President.
Bringing down the debt sends a message to American families, businessmen and women, entrepreneurs and investors. It gives them confidence that they won’t face a future plagued by inflation, higher taxes and higher interest rates. We understand that cutting spending alone isn’t enough, which is why our budget implements pro-growth policies to get our economy flourishing and people back to work.
Families and small business people are struggling, and today – Tax Day – millions of them will send their hard earned money to Uncle Sam – the last thing we should be asking them to do is send more. Instead, our budget puts in place a more competitive tax system that will encourage the economy to grow, create jobs and spur investment in the private sector. We call for the end of crony capitalism that allows privileged industries to take advantage of complexities in the tax code. And we put in place a more simple system that lowers rates for all, but makes sure everyone pays their fair share.
With this budget, House Republicans are changing the culture in Washington from one of spending to one of savings, finally America will see that it can get its fiscal house in order after years of mismanagement Congress is finally doing what families and small businesses have been doing for years: tightening the belt, and learning to do more with less.
I thank Chairman Ryan and his Committee for their outstanding leadership on this budget resolution and I urge my colleagues to support it.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)
April 15, 2011