WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the floor of the U.S. Senate today, Senator John Hoeven called for a vote to keep the federal government operating, pay our military, and at the same time, take essential steps to tame the nation’s debt and deficit. The text of his comments is as follows:
Sometimes complex challenges, present clear and compelling choices.
Mr. President, that’s the case with the fiscal challenge before us today. We have a choice between delay and disruption – or progress and accord, and the nation’s eyes are on us.
We need to vote to keep our government running, pay our military, and at the same time, take essential steps to tame our uncontrolled spending and deficit.
Most importantly, we need to ensure that our men and women in uniform continue to receive their well-earned pay while we undertake the work of balancing America’s books – and they undertake the vital work of defending our nation at home and abroad.
I’m proud to be one of the sponsors of a bill introduced by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison that will do make sure that happens even after the work of the 112th Congress is finished. I’m also pleased to report that we are now up to 74 sponsors.
In the final analysis, we need to reduce our overall spending, which most Americans recognize as necessary – necessary, because every day we delay, we are spending ourselves $4 billion deeper into a hole. Right now – this fiscal year – we’re on a path to spend $3.7 trillion, but we are taking in only $2.2 trillion in revenues, leaving a deficit of $1.5 trillion.
To make up for that shortfall, the federal government is borrowing 40 cents out of every dollar we spend, with a national debt of more than $14 trillion. Our largest lender is China, which now holds more than $1 trillion in American notes. No American family would practice that kind of financial management, and neither should we.
Reducing our debt and deficit is something the American people understand and support, because the American people are the ones suffering the impacts.
Nearly 14 million of our countrymen and women are out of work, and another 8 million are underemployed because they’ve had their hours cut back or they can’t find a full time job. Sadly, a million more have just stopped looking.
As private investment has plummeted, unemployment has climbed sharply to levels we haven’t seen in decades.
For those who are fortunate enough to be working, the American Dream is getting more and more difficult to achieve.
In response to growing inflationary pressure, the Federal Reserve Bank now says interest rates are likely to rise at the end of the year to tighten the money supply. Every percent increase in interest rates, adds $140 billion to our debt.
Higher interest rates will erode the income of every American and make it harder to buy a home, a car, or a college education. Spending more won’t help them. In fact, spending more will just prolong the problem.
In the 1990s, when government spending as a share of GDP shrank, employment grew. And despite the surge in government spending over the past two years, unemployment still hovers stubbornly at about 9 percent.
We don’t need more public spending – we need more private investment. When private investment grows, unemployment shrinks.
The American people understand all of this. That’s why they want us to arrive at a plan that keeps our government running, respects the sacrifices of our military in real terms, and puts us back on the road to fiscal health.
We owe it to these hard-working men and women to bring the 2011 budget to a reasonable and realistic conclusion – and then move on to the important matters that still lie before us, including the 2012 budget.
That’s where we can address all of the substantive and urgent issues we must resolve to get America’s financial house in order – issues like making sure we have a prudent spending level, reforming our tax code, and making entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare solvent and more secure for our seniors.
Mr. President, we owe that not just to our current constituents, but to the next generation of Americans.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Text as prepared for delivery.
Click here to view Senator Hoeven’s speech.
EDITORS NOTE: Senator Hoeven was one of the first cosponsors of Senator Hutchison’s bill.