I want to ask my colleagues a question. I want to ask the American people a question. You know, I remember one of the worst moments I had in Congress was the financial crisis of 2008. It seems like it was yesterday. We had the Treasury Secretary, we had the Federal Reserve Chairman coming here and talking about crisis, talking about bank collapses.
Economy & Budget
Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) gave these remarks Friday in support of Rep. Paul Ryan's FY 2012 budget.
The American people understand that we can’t continue spending money we don’t have. Our national debt has now surpassed $14.2 trillion. It’s on a track to eclipse the size of our entire economy this year. This massive debt is hurting private sector job creation – eroding confidence, spreading uncertainty among employers big and small, discouraging private investment in our economy that is sorely needed in order for us to create jobs.
This debt is also a moral threat to our country. In my opinion, it is immoral to rob our children and grandchildren’s futures and leave them beholden to countries around the world that buy our debt. We have a moral obligation to speak the truth and to do something about it.
Amid the frenzied talk of budget cutting in Washington, it is time to take a step back and determine whether our leaders’ austerity plans will help or hurt our country get back on the track to economic growth.
Transportation infrastructure has been labeled a priority by the Obama Administration. The President’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget called for $50 billion in infrastructure investment in addition to funding for traditional highway, rail and aviation programs.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) made the following remarks Thursday during a Q&A about President Obama's speech on deficit reduction with e21, a nonprofit economic research organization:
...I was expecting from actually speaking with some Democrats that it was going to be an olive branch speech, that we were going to see the president get engaged in the issue of our time, our fiscal crisis, offer some details and specifics. In particular, we thought he was going to offer some solutions on Social Security which I thought was going to be a concrete step in the right direction. And the impression we were given was that, you know, we had an agreement on the CR, hammered out agreement and we're going to build on that success going forward with debt limit in the budget and the rest.
So Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and I, members of the Fiscal Commission, members of Congress on the Republican side in the House went with a little bit of optimism. And what we ended up finding out is we got front row seats to President Obama's reelection campaign speech. We basically realized fairly quickly that this wasn't about building bridges, it was about partisanship. It was about basically what his 2012 election speech is going to be all about.
Last week's debate over a government shutdown showed once again how easily campaigning can overshadow policy in Washington. Leaders tackled tough choices and set rhetoric aside, however briefly, only when faced with the pressure of a final deadline.
Corporate disclosure is not as TV-friendly as the budget battle, but since Congress passed new rules requiring more openness by oil and mining companies, a war of words has broken out over the Dodd-Frank provisions for fuller disclosure of oil and mining payments to governments. Citizens and investors around the globe, especially those in oil-rich countries, should hope that the debate over industry reporting rules also shifts to facts.
With the oil industry's high-octane warnings about the law, the stakes are particularly high. The big five U.S. oil companies had combined profits nearing $1 trillion over the past decade, as Dan Froomkin pointed out on Saturday in the Huffington Post, and the industry has spent nearly $1 billion on lobbying since 1998.
Among Obama administration officials, calls to raise the debt ceiling are getting more melodramatic by the day. Timothy Geithner kicked things off in January, warning that defaulting on our debt would be "catastrophic." Senior White House adviser David Plouffe added the flourish "catastrophic failure" and threw in a "wreak havoc" on Sunday's "Meet the Press." With few options left in the thesaurus by Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney turned to the Bible to describe a failure to raise the debt limit as "Armageddon-like."
A skeptic might think the Democrats are laying the groundwork to accuse Republicans of being reckless in insisting that the debt ceiling vote be accompanied by debt reduction measures. In reality, it would be irresponsible to automatically raise the debt ceiling without implementing meaningful fiscal reforms.
We need other choices, like the People’s Budget that the Congressional Progressive Caucus is offering today. It’s called the People’s Budget because it invests in people and listens to people…because its values are American values.
The People’s Budget shows that you can tame the deficit without shredding the safety net, without destroying Medicare, without giving the back of the hand treatment to the middle class. We think working families deserve more prosperity, not more austerity.
I believe that budget proposals are moral documents, reflecting the values of our country and who we want to be as a nation. The budget proposals put forth by Republican Budget Chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), would slash funding for critical programs – including those that help students, the poor, pregnant women, the disabled and older Americans. This morning, I spoke against the Republican Budget proposal on the House floor:
At the eleventh hour last Friday, leadership in Congress and the Administration came to an agreement on how to proceed with this year’s spending bill in order to prevent a government shutdown. Was anyone happy about the agreement that was made? Certainly not, but my conviction on the vote was without a doubt dependent upon our troops getting paid.
Under no circumstances can we ask our men and women in uniform to fight in three wars but not pay them. If Congress failed to pass the bill by Friday at midnight, soldiers all around the world, fighting on the frontlines for our freedom, would not have received a paycheck for their service. The domino effect could have been disastrous, as many of their family members are dependent upon that money to keep their family secure.
This agreement is a start, but certainly not the finish of the spending debate. There’s no doubt about it – our government is overweight, and it’s time we put it on a diet. You can’t lose all the weight over night – but you have to start somewhere. Now, we’re starting a bigger debate and fight on the 2012 budget, where we are going to be talking about cutting trillions instead of billions. It’s going to take lots of discipline and patience over the years, but we have to work towards balancing the budget.
Garrett Harney’s last words of despair to his mother were, “Mom, I can’t be helped.” Shortly after, Garrett fatally overdosed on OxyContin and Xanax. Since the tragedy, Garrett’s mother, a Sarasota, Florida resident, has dedicated her life to spreading awareness about the nationwide epidemic of prescription drug abuse in the hope of sparing other parents the ordeal she and her son faced.
While Florida is infamous as “ground zero” in the prescription drug battle, the problem is escalating throughout the country. Earlier this year, a former Needham, Massachusetts doctor and his nurse practitioner were charged with distributing medically unnecessary painkillers to people they knew to be drug addicts or dealers. Before federal authorities raided the practice, six of their patients died of prescription drug overdoses.