WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator John Boozman today took to the Senate floor to push his colleagues in the Democratic-led Senate Majority to end the talks of tax hikes and instead focus on substantial spending cuts to prevent a “Greek-like catastrophe.”
“We could very well end up like Greece if we do not handle this crisis properly. This is the last thing we want to experience in our great country and that is why we need to reform our fiscal policy and the way we’ve done business. There is too much at stake not to take action,” Boozman said.
Boozman stressed that the Obama Administration’s refusal to rein in reckless spending and intention to raise taxes instead is pushing us closer to defaulting on our nation’s debts, as the American people do not want the debt ceiling raised unless significant cuts are made and a spending cap mechanism is put into place.
“The big ticket items they have already passed—specifically the President’s stimulus and health care bills—have put our country on the path of unprecedented level of spending that will keep us in the red for my lifetime, my children’s lives and well beyond. The administration’s refusal to cut the excessive spending, much of which the nation never asked for, will put us on course for a Greek-like catastrophe. Without action, annual interest payments on the national debt alone will exceed 40 percent of GDP by 2080,” Boozman said.
The following is the text of Boozman’s speech as prepared for delivery:
Mr. President, it has been almost 800 days since the Democratic Majority has produced a budget proposal. I don’t expect one to appear from the Majority today, but at least they canceled the Fourth of July recess to work toward an agreement to deal with our budgetary crisis.
With the possibility of default looming, our caucus, led by Senator Sessions, has been pushing the Democratic Majority to keep the chamber working over the recent recesses. After refusing past calls to remain in session, the Democratic Majority finally recognized that we can’t sort this out if we aren’t here to focus on it.
I, for one, am glad they listened. The American people deserve an honest, open conversation about the very difficult situation we find ourselves in. More importantly, they deserve a commitment that we will work in good faith to end this impasse.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure we will get that from the Democratic Majority or the President. We are in session this week, specifically to deal with the budget ceiling crisis, and the only vote the Majority Leader had scheduled from the onset was a resolution on the Libya conflict. I say had, because the Democratic Majority rightly canceled that vote after intense pressure from our side to keep the Senate focused on the debt ceiling issue.
And President Obama has been absent from this debate for months. Only recently has he started showing up on TV to tell Americans that his solution to the crisis is raising taxes instead of cutting spending.
Meanwhile, we’ve inched closer and closer toward defaulting on our obligations. It is interesting that we are here today—specifically to work out a solution to our financial crisis—one week after scenes of Athens on fire as a result of rioting over Greece’s own debt crisis dominated the airwaves.
One week after passing tough austerity measures to secure further financial aid, the very same measures that sparked the rioting, the Greek government is far from out of the woods. Standard & Poor's says the proposals for restructuring Greek debt would effectively constitute a default, instead of helping the country avoid one.
So I mention all of this—not to generate fear—but rather to shed light on the gravity of our situation. We could very well end up like Greece if we do not handle this crisis properly. This is the last thing we want to experience in our great country and that is why we need to reform our fiscal policy and the way we’ve done business. There is too much at stake not to take action.
We are at a point where our nation can no longer borrow money. The IMF has harsh words for our soaring budget deficits and credit rating agencies Moody’s and S&P have threatened to downgrade our government’s AAA rating.
President Obama likes to blame our economic mess on the previous administration, but the reality is over the past two years, our debt has increased 35 percent under his watch. That’s not the previous administration’s fault. Nor is it their fault that the annual deficit is now three times greater than the highest deficit during the Bush years.
If American families ran their households like Washington runs its budget, the utilities would be shut off and collection agencies would be knocking on their doors. If they maxed out a credit card, they wouldn’t have the luxury of telling someone else to pay for their bills. Yet this is what the President is demanding by sticking to tax increase proposals. I said this here last week, but since the President continues to push tax increases as the answer, I will say it again: President Obama, take tax hikes off the table. We got into this mess by excessively spending; we can’t fix the problem unless we stop excessively spending.
But the White House remains focused on tax hikes. If you look at their agenda, you can see why. The big ticket items they have already passed—specifically the President’s stimulus and health care bills—have put our country on the path of unprecedented level of spending that will keep us in the red for my lifetime, my children’s lives and well beyond. The administration’s refusal to cut the excessive spending, much of which the nation never asked for, will put us on course for a Greek-like catastrophe. Without action, annual interest payments on the national debt alone will exceed 40 percent of GDP by 2080.
So, with that in mind, the President is working behind closed doors with his allies in Congress to figure out ways to raise “revenue.” As we all know, “revenue” is a Washington euphemism for taxes. Instead of threating to further exasperate our economy by raising taxes, we need to focus on the damage our reckless spending is having on our recovery and our nation’s future.
Mr. President, our solution must be tailored to the problem. Washington does not have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem. Any proposal that does not start in that truth should be taken off the table.
If the White House-engineered agreement for raising the debt ceiling does not include significant cuts and a spending cap mechanism (such as a balanced budget amendment) to prevent us from having to raise it again, then I can assure you they will not get my vote. Anything short of that is irresponsible.
I know I am not alone in these demands. Many of my colleagues feel just as strongly and will not back down either. The President and the Senate Democratic Majority need to understand we are committed to these principles because millions more Americans feel exactly the same as we do. We are here to do the people’s work. Let’s listen to them, instead of trying to tell the people what is best for them.
I yield the floor.