A Stronger America or A Path to Economic Disaster

Floor Speech

Date: May 11, 2016
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GIBBS. Mr. Speaker, in 2009 and 2010, when the other side of the aisle had complete control of Congress and the White House, the American people saw what liberals would pass when given free rein and a blank check.

With Dodd-Frank, Democrats deemed it necessary to punish small community banks with burdensome regulations they cannot afford to comply with. Dodd-Frank created a new, unaccountable bureaucracy called the CFPB, which is funded in a way that obscures its transparency and prevents Congress' direct oversight of the agency. The lack of accountability like that seen with the CFPB and the heavy hand of agencies like the EPA and the IRS have become hallmarks of this administration.

With the stimulus bill, Democrats gave handouts to their union and so-called green energy friends. Taxpayers were on the hook for loan guarantees to companies like Solyndra, which used its political connections in the White House to push through irresponsible loan approvals. When Solyndra went bankrupt, it was at the cost of the American people. Many other smaller boondoggles came out of the stimulus: silly studies on ducks, over $1 million on road signs that promote the stimulus, and over $3 million for a tunnel for turtles in Florida.

This leaves ObamaCare. Too many Americans have felt the negative consequences of what boils down to a government takeover of the healthcare industry. The President claimed this law would decrease premiums by $2,500 per year. Instead, they have risen since ObamaCare has been enacted. To go with the increase in cost, many Americans have seen a sharp decrease in their choices. There are fewer plans available, restricting the ability of hardworking families to choose coverage that is appropriate for their circumstances.

Taken together, this trio of liberal policies is adding layers of bureaucratic red tape, forcing Americans to pay more for health care and putting taxpayers on the hook.

In 2009, Democrats used the blank check to add $1.5 trillion in discretionary spending. When Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives in 2011, we put discretionary spending on a downward trend. Discretionary spending funds our Federal agencies such as the EPA and the IRS, as well as the Department of Defense. We have made real cuts in spending, not slowdowns in growth and not projected cuts down the road--honest-to-God cuts in spending. Since I took office in 2011, discretionary spending has been cut significantly by $434 billion.

But this does not address mandatory spending, which is the real driver of our national debt. This includes programs like food assistance, welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and interest on our debt. Reforms are needed to ensure these programs work efficiently and are sustainable. Because of the way ObamaCare was written and enacted, mandatory spending also includes large portions of ObamaCare funding. Mandatory spending is on autopilot and will continue with or without Congress' annual appropriations process.

The fact is we have to change the law. That means both Chambers of Congress have to pass reforms and the President has to sign them or we have to override a veto. Mandatory spending accounts for three-quarters of all money spent by the Federal Government. This is a 180-degree change from when I was a teenager, when in 1970, mandatory spending was only about a third of government spending.

Realistically, there is only one path to a balanced budget and shrinking our national debt. That path is to pass a budget and use a process called reconciliation. A budget facilitates reconciliation, which only requires a 51-vote majority in the United States Senate and avoids a filibuster by liberals who want to continue running up America's credit card. Not doing a budget forfeits the opportunity to do reconciliation. Reconciliation with mandatory spending program reforms, coupled with real tax and regulatory reforms, will send a strong signal to our entrepreneurs and businesses, which will unleash innovation and the American spirit and will, thus, grow our economy and provide for our national defense. A vibrant economy will provide for our national security and priorities without raising taxes.

We have an opportunity with a new President next year to send two reconciliation bills to his desk--one for this fiscal year and another for the next fiscal year. Elections do matter, and this one has historic implications--one being a path to a stronger America and opportunity for every American or a path on a downward spiral of economic disaster, risking our personal and economic freedoms. God help us.