National Debt and Spending

Floor Speech

Date: March 1, 2016
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I thank him for his leadership on this issue.

Say what you want to about freshmen in this institution. I was elected with the vice chairman of the Budget Committee back in 2010, the largest freshman class in history, and it changed this place; changed this place. Largest freshmen class of Republicans and Democrats in history. You need new faces and new ideas. And what you all have done in terms of a Budget Committee at work has just been amazing.

What I have here to contribute is a chart of CBO's projections of GDP growth. And we have some of our Democratic colleagues here on the floor. I just want to say, and I hope folks hold me accountable to it, we can't cut our way into prosperity. We just can't do it. Cutting our way into prosperity isn't going to happen.

You cut budgets because there is bad spending in budgets. You don't cut budgets because cutting is an end in and of itself. You cut things that are bad. You plus up things that are good.

So much of the challenge that we have balancing this budget--we have done amazing things in terms of reducing wasteful spending in the 5 years that I have been in this body. But the economy keeps declining, the regulation nation that is the new United States of America, draining productivity.

When I arrived, the CBO projected we would be growing at about 3 percent a year as a nation. The next year they revised it down to 2.9; the next year, 2.5; the next year, 2.3; this year, 2.1 percent growth; 2.1 percent growth. That looks like a downward trend. But every 0.1 percent of economic growth that is lost translates into about $300 billion of economic activity.

If people don't have jobs, they don't pay taxes. If people don't have jobs, they can't contribute to the system. If people can't contribute to the system, revenues go down. If revenues go down, budgets don't balance.

We have to grow our way out of this. We have to grow our way out of this, and that is a bipartisan challenge.

There is not a man or woman in this room who doesn't want to see more American jobs in this country, not one. There is not a man or woman in this room who doesn't want to see our entrepreneurs be the most competitive on the planet, not one.

There is not a man or woman in this room who does not believe that America's best days are still going to be tomorrow.

We cannot balance budgets by cutting discretionary spending. In fact, if we zeroed out discretionary spending, zeroed out the courts, zeroed out the parks, zeroed out the military, zeroed out everything, environment, everything people think of as government, and we only paid our Medicare bills, our Medicaid bills, our interest on the national debt, our mandatory spending programs, Social Security programs, that would consume virtually the entire revenue stream of the United States of America.

We have to grow our way out of this, and that is a partnership issue that we can do together.

What Mr. Westerman is doing with his leadership on the budget provides that foundation. If you don't know where you are going, you are not going to get there. We have to have folks who are providing that vision of where we are going. That is what our budget is.

It is our one opportunity as a Congress to come together and talk about our collective vision, not the Republican vision, not the Democratic vision, our vision, America's vision. Unless we are looking at unemployment slides, a downward slope is not our vision. Our vision is more growth, more jobs, more economic activity.

The kind of disciplined budget that Mr. Westerman is talking about today will make all the difference in the world. I thank him for his leadership. I thank him for the time. It is a real honor to serve.