We can and we should pass Cut, Cap, Balance

This year, it is one of my proudest achievements, to have introduced S.J. Res. 10 — a Balanced Budget Amendment that is supported by every Republican in this body.

It is the strongest Balanced Budget Amendment ever written, one that fundamentally deals with our spending crisis. I am honored to have worked with my colleague and friend from Utah, Senator Lee in crafting this amendment. And I am honored to be working with old and new friends such as Senators Cornyn, Kyl, Paul, Toomey, Rubio and many others in pursuing this constitutional amendment for the American people.

The Cut, Cap, Balance legislation that the Senate tabled today culminates in a Balanced Budget Amendment, but also includes the short term deficit reduction that families and markets demand.

Cut, Cap, Balance provides meaningful deficit reduction for next year and spending caps for the years that follow. It sets us on the path toward a balanced budget. It addresses the gross overspending of the federal government in the short-term, taking on the deficits and debt that are holding back economic growth and permanently burdening American families and businesses.

And most importantly, Cut, Cap, Balance would fix the problem of government overspending permanently. It would eliminate the bias in Washington for ever more spending by requiring Congress to send a Balanced Budget Amendment to the states for ratification prior to any increase in the debt ceiling.

The more the American people hear about this plan, the more they like it. They know the President has no plan. They know that the markets are done with promises to cut spending down the road. They know that raising taxes is not the solution to a government spending problem. And the President and congressional Democrats know that the people know this.

That is why they have pulled out all the stops to kill this bill’s momentum. The President threatened to veto Cut, Cap, Balance. But that did not do the trick.

So after the House passed Cut, Cap, Balance, the President all of a sudden supported the so-called Gang of Six proposal. His advisors knew he had a problem.

All of his clever talk about raising taxes on oil companies and corporate jets and yachts was not distracting the American people from a simple fact.  My friends on the other side of the aisle have no credible plan for balancing the budget. The President has no credible plan for balancing the budget.

They have speeches and executive summaries of bills that will be written down the road. They have plans and proposals for future spending cuts that remain a mystery to everyone. They have budget frameworks. But they have no plan. The Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee has a budget outline. But here is the Senate Democratic Caucus Budget Proposal.

As meager as this is, I have to hand it to them. It beats the President’s budget proposal.

The President has offered us nothing. And we have a goose egg here in the Senate. The American people are done with this.

The people of Utah know that the same people who brought you the Stimulus — the policy equivalent of taking $1 trillion in taxpayer dollars and throwing it into the Potomac River — and the same people who brought you $2.6 trillion in new spending and half a trillion in new taxes with ObamaCare, are just not credible when they now boast of their commitment to deficit reduction and balanced budgets.

The most recent proposal is from the Gang of Six. We are still looking at this proposal. And I will not condemn anyone who makes a good faith effort to get to the bottom of a serious problem. Their efforts might be on the side of the angels. But the devil is in the details, and many of us have real questions about this proposal. Specifically, we want to know what the revenue impact will be, because by some accounts it will raise taxes by between two and three trillion dollars.

At the very least, the American people understand that the President’s desperate embrace of this plan is to avoid dealing with the deficit. Whatever its substantive merits or demerits, this proposal is a commitment to dealing with deficit reduction later. 

But later is too late! We need to deal with deficit reduction now!

The people of this nation are telling us this over and over. They are lighting up the Capitol switchboard. And I am confident that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are hearing the message loud and clear.

Balance the budget NOW! Get spending under control NOW! A last minute op-ed from the President telling us to “Go Big” on a debt deal is too little too late.

We are facing our third straight year of trillion dollar deficits. Our debt is now $14.3 trillion. And the President has shown no serious signs of getting this fiscal crisis under control.

He offered up a dead-on-arrival budget in February. When even his friends in the mainstream media panned his budget for its total lack of attention to our looming debt crisis, he offered his budget mulligan with a much ballyhooed speech on deficit reduction. But a speech is not a plan.

Meanwhile, it has been over 800 days since Senate Democrats have produced a budget, abdicating their most basic of duties. The American people are finished with this dithering. And they know what the solution is.     

The President and the Majority Leader no doubt saw the polling yesterday on the Cut, Cap, Balance plan. 

Here is the bottom line.  Nearly two-thirds of the American people support it. But that is only half the story.

Here is the rest. Everyone likes Cut, Cap, Balance. Not just Republicans. Not just Democrats. It makes sense.

American families want deficit reduction, and with this plan they get it. No vague platitudes or speeches or rallies about reducing the deficit.   

This plan reduces the deficit. And it fixes the underlying problem, which is Washington’s predisposition toward more spending.        

The President frequently demands that Congress put partisanship aside and come to a deficit reduction agreement. Well, the American people are one step ahead of him.

The Cut, Cap, Balance plan, along with a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, wins across the board. Sixty-three percent of Democrats back Cut, Cap, Balance. Fifty-three percent of those who oppose the Tea Party support it.        

Democrats threw everything they had at this bill. They absurdly called it the Cut, Cap, and Destroy Medicare plan. The left is becoming a caricature of itself when it comes to demagoguery on the issue of Medicare. 

I think that the American people have caught on that liberals claim that when Republicans turn on the lights in the morning they are working to destroy Medicare.        

These claims no longer have credibility. The left is out of talking points. Their constituents are telling them to pass Cut, Cap, Balance.        

They know it won’t destroy anything. It will save this country. And so instead of having a vote on it, Democrats decided to pull the plug on the vote.

Ordinarily, it is not a good idea in a democracy to actively undermine the will of the people. But in this case, there is a method to their madness.

The President and his hard left supporters are in a real pickle. They refuse any structural reforms to our biggest spending programs — the programs that are driving the country toward a fiscal collapse.

But they know that they cannot come clean with the American people about the tax increases that will hit squarely in the middle class if these structural reforms fail to occur. So they do nothing.

Unable to talk straight with citizens who are demanding a balanced budget, they do nothing. They focus on $21 billion in tax benefits that go to energy companies over ten years, when we have a $1.5 trillion deficit THIS year.

This is how Peter Roff at US News and World Report put it. “The president and congressional Democratic leaders are still dug in, trying to pull a rabbit out of their hat that will get them what the political coalition behind them demands: new taxes, new spending, and no real cuts.”

This is not going to happen. So unable to thread the needle between the President’s hard left base that refuses spending reductions and the majority of taxpayers demanding deficit reduction, they punt. 

Today they managed to avoid a vote on the bipartisan Cut, Cap, and Balance plan. There was a great deal of bluster surrounding this dodge. To distract the American people from the fact that they were running from a fight, the rhetoric was laid on pretty thick.

This is what we heard about this bill. According to my friends on the other side, Cut, Cap, Balance is “as weak and senseless as anything that has ever come on this Senate floor.”   

It is “anathema to what our country is all about.” This is “some of the worst legislation in the history of this country." Let’s be clear about what they are talking about.

They are smearing a bill that balances the budget.

They are trashing a bill that requires a balanced budget amendment. I am glad to know where the other side stands. But they don’t stand with the American people.

They certainly don’t stand with Utah.

The American people think that balancing the budget IS PRECISELY what America is all about. Reining in spending, restoring the Constitution, and securing the liberty and prosperity of America’s families is exactly what Congress should be doing.

I am disappointed in what happened here today. But I am confident that this fight is not over.

The left might be able to hide from a vote on balancing the budget, but they can’t hide from the markets, and the legacy of debt that President Obama has given this country is the real threat to our credit rating.

Yesterday Standard and Poor’s made clear that avoiding a default was ONLY ONE variable in their rating of U.S. credit. This is what they said. “We have previously stated our belief that there is a material risk that efforts to reduce future budget deficits will fall short of the targets set by Congressional leaders and the Administration.

In this light, we see at least a one-in-two likelihood that we could lower the long-term rating by one or more notches on the U.S. within the next three months and potentially as soon as early August...if we conclude that Washington hasn't reached what we consider to be a credible agreement to address future budget deficits.”

After years of reckless spending by President Obama and his Democratic allies, the chickens are coming home to roost.

We face an imminent debt crisis, and a failure to take it on will impose a crushing burden on America’s families and businesses. Our economy is stagnant. And the failure of the President to lead on deficit reduction now threatens higher interest rates that will slow it even further.

This is Standard and Poor’s analysis of the impact of a debt downgrade due to a failure of deficit reduction. “We assume that under this scenario we would see a moderate rise in long-term interest rates (25-50 basis points), despite an accommodative Fed, due to an ebbing of market confidence, as well as some slowing of economic growth (25-50 basis points on GDP growth) amid an increase in consumer and business caution.”

For an economy that is slogging along with anemic growth and job creation, this warning should wake people up. It should make the President and the left get serious about deficit reduction.

But instead the President is still casting about for a plan. It is important to remind people that we have a plan. It is called Cut, Cap, Balance.

It culminates in a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. And it is supported broadly by the American people. Some folks on the other side claim to be for a balanced budget.

They claim to stand with the people. But on a party-line vote, they voted to table this proposal today.

When America’s Founders came together in the summer of 1787 to draft our Constitution, they faced many challenges. But at heart they had a respect for republican government. They had a respect for the sovereign power of the American people. And they understood that the fundamental principle of popular sovereignty gave the Constitution its legitimacy.

For that reason, the Constitution that they wrote was clear that the voice of the people should be loudest on the most pressing issues. The provisions for amending the Constitution provided that on the most important issues the people rule directly.

The Constitution belongs to the people. It only became law because it was ratified by the people. And it can only be changed by the people. Our nation is deeply in debt, and this debt now threatens the very liberty of our families and the vitality of our economy. It is a threat to current and future prosperity. And most importantly, it is a threat to limited constitutional government.

The people know this. They know it in their guts. They know that the problem here is spending. Our problem is too much spending, not too little taxation. And they know what the solution is — Cut, Cap, Balance and a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. There will be talk now about moving on. But I am not moving on.  Democrats want to write the obituary on this bill and turn to some new plan or framework of the President’s.

But no plan that this President produces will get us to balance. Cut, Cap, Balance does. I am not so sure what my friends on the other side are afraid of.

The founder of their party, Thomas Jefferson, had a deep respect for the democratic process, and the sovereignty of the people. What are they so afraid of? Why not pass Cut, Cap, Balance?  Why not send a Balanced Budget Amendment to the states for ratification?

If liberals have the better argument, they can lead a fight against the amendment in the states. But why not let the people decide? And the people have decided – they want Cut, Cap, Balance and I’ve told them that the only way I would ever vote to raise the debt ceiling is if it’s enacted. The only way.

During the last presidential campaign, the President frequently told his admirers Yes We Can. Well, now the American people are saying it back to him.

They are telling him that they want to balance the budget, and that we CAN balance the budget. We can and we should pass Cut, Cap, Balance and send a Balanced Budget Amendment to the states for ratification.

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