Reviewing the Fiscal Picture of America

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 1, 2021
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SCHWEIKERT. Madam Speaker, tonight we are going to try to do sort an of an extension of the last couple of times I have been behind this microphone and have a discussion about what is actually going on with the big fiscal picture of our country.

I am going to be a little mean to some of the Democratic policies, but I am going to show factually how I think it actually hurts, but there is actually something that happened this last week that we should actually be almost giddy about if it ultimately proves out, a major breakthrough on one of the things that creates misery around the world, let alone our own country, but also has real fiscal impacts.

So, let's actually sort of start with some of the basics. How much do you think we borrowed every single day last year? We were playing with the math a little while ago. We were borrowing about $3.8 billion every single day. Break that down, do that math, an it is $160 million an hour.

I know every time I get behind this mic and start talking numbers, people just glaze over, but it is important because if you are someone who says I really care about investments in the environment, I really care about investments in healthcare, I really care about investments in education, where do you think the money is going to come from?

If we continue policywise the avoidance of the drivers of our debt, we continue doing public policy by feelings. One of the things that enrages me around here is we have entire conversations, entire speeches behind these microphones, and then we make public policy by our emotions, by our feelings, but not by a calculator.

And I know the calculator sounds cold, and as Republicans, we sound like accountants on steroids, but at some point the math is important. But also, what happens when I can show you that getting the math right means you don't hurt people?

We saw in the Democrat social spending bill, their Build Back Better, multiple university papers coming out saying, Hey, we are looking at this and we believe the working poor will be poorer at the end of the decade. The disassociation of the value of your labors to money coming in, the other social policies that were driven in that piece of legislation, they may be great politics, and they are really crappy for the society, and they are really crappy for the very people that the left claims they care about.

So let's pull it back and just deal with where we are at right now. Now, this board here is from math from a year ago. And once again, we are not going to talk about 1965, but I start with this over and over because I can't tell you how many people will come up to me at Costco, and they will walk up and say, David, if you would just cut back on that foreign aid. David, if you would just get rid of waste and fraud. Or if they are liberals, Hey, if you cut back on defense spending.

Well, we have a reality problem. You see this red area? That is mandatory spending. That is functionally, Social Security, Medicare-- the primary drivers.

The green area over here is what we get to vote on. The little blue area, that is defense. The green is all domestic. It is down to 13 percent of what we, as Members of Congress, vote on is the non-defense spending around here. And that is today. This gets dramatically worse. And you know what makes it worse? We are getting old as a society.

Demographics. Demographics are actually what primarily drive the U.S. sovereign debt. And yet, how many times--for anyone that is crazy enough to watch C-SPAN, or even our fellow Members or staff--do we talk about where we are going to be in just a few years.

And I thought I would also just sort of start with some of the folklore. You will hear the speeches here of: Rich people need to pay their fair share. They sure do.

A couple months ago we made a whole presentation here on the floor begging our Democrat colleagues, saying instead of doing policy where you are going to go--say, we are going to raise taxes on small businesses. We are going to go raise taxes on individuals. How about just stop subsidizing them?

We came in and showed almost $1.4 trillion over 10 years that the policies of this place subsidize the rich. And I am talking the really rich. So the Democrats did their build back better social spending bill. If you look at it, it now substantially subsidizes the really rich even more.

The other perversity in that piece of legislation, if you get to year five, you do realize you have driven almost another $800 billion of borrowing. Then we play this pretend game around here and say, Oh, then we are going to make these programs disappear, and then we are going to keep the taxes going for the rest of the decade. And that is how we only end up with about $400 billion of borrowing.

I mean, no wonder those in the public who pay attention to Congress in Washington, D.C., just realize we treat the public like fools. These are people who are just trying to survive. They are trying to take care of their kids. They are trying to get ready for retirement. And this place is basically getting ready to destroy the next couple decades. And the scale of debt is off the charts and it will drive every bit of policy around here, instead of the fraud that is going on so far this year where it looks more like trying to buy votes than save the future of this country.

So let's take a quick look. Even 100 percent tax rate on small businesses and upper-income families, if you took 100 percent of it, you can't get close to covering where we are spending-wise. It is just math. And I know this is a math-free zone, but at some point the math will always win.

So take a look here. If you took every dime of people that make over $500,000, and with that, every dime of the small business earnings, you get about 5.5 percent of GDP. This is the most elegant way to do the math. But in 2030, just the borrowing will be 6.3 percent of GDP. And 29 years from now, it is 15.1. You don't get close to it. You can take every dime of $500,000 and up and every dime from small business, and where are we 29 years from now? You hit a third of the revenues necessary.

We are living in just an absolute economic fraud. The share of Federal tax revenue spent on interest--and this is one of those that scares me to death. Let's see if I can try to explain this.

What happens to a country when you have borrowed and borrowed and borrowed and borrowed and borrowed, and you put yourself right up against the edge. And then you have a new virus and all of a sudden you need to stabilize the economy. Or God forbid, there is a military conflict or some other tragedy in your country, you have made yourself very, very fragile as a country.

It is the concept of, we all have this occasion where we live a little too close to the fire and that one time there is a traffic accident, that one time something happens and we miss our airplane. We understand the consequences of what they call fragility. We are doing that to this country.

This board here is really simple. If we had a 2 percent increase in interest rates, by the time we get to that 29 years from now, 100 percent of all the tax revenues, 100 percent of the tax revenues go just to pay the interest payments. You start to think about that, hell, just a 1 percent rise in interest from the CBO's baseline is 70 percent of all tax revenues will be consumed just making our interest payments.

Is this the future you plan for your children? I mean, is this the future this place plans for your own retirement? You think you are going to continue to still get all the benefits you have earned when your government, 100 percent of its income is going just to cover the borrowing interest? This is where we are at. And this is last year's math. This is before the huge amount of borrowing that has already happened this year.

So now the most difficult part of when you get behind this conversation, for those who come behind these microphones, this is the part that my brothers and sisters around here on the left--and even a number on the right--don't want to have.

What is the primary driver of the U.S. sovereign debt? Two things: Remember how I said demographics? It is the fact we are getting older. You have got to understand, 29 years from now--and this was actually, this math was done before the massive amount of spending this last year--we will be at $112 trillion of borrowed money in 29 years. And that is inflation-adjusted, so today's dollars, $112 trillion of borrowed money, most of it is Medicare.

If you are like I am, and you believe Medicare is a societal promise we made, how do you plan to keep paying for it? Social Security is the rest of the balance. The rest of the budget is actually in balance. As a matter of fact, the latest math actually says the rest of the budget actually has a small positive balance in 29, 30 years.

How many times today behind my Democratic microphones--or even the Republican microphones--did we tell the public the truth? That if we don't get our act together and find a way to disrupt the cost of healthcare, we have just--and it is a technical economic term for the future--we have screwed our kids and our own retirements. I am sorry to be crass, but I don't know how to get anyone here to listen.

It is math. It is demographics. It is not Republican or Democrats. Getting older is not Republican or Democrat. It is not partisan. It is math.

And the solution so far this year is, Well, let's just spend a hell of a lot more money right now, let's pay for it with a bunch of fake accounting. And maybe it is enough spending where we can buy enough votes, we will survive another election, but the country will be in an incredible amount of trouble.

So what is the solution? Well, let's first, what is the primary driver? You just saw the slide. The primary driver of U.S. sovereign debt is Medicare.

So let's break it down. Five percent of our Nation's population, our brothers and sisters who have really tough lives--they have chronic conditions, they have diabetes, they will have other comorbidities, as you have heard over and over during the pandemic--well, they are a majority of our healthcare spending. If you actually love and care for people, why not go and do your very best to help these poor people that are suffering? Oh, by the way, you also get an amazing economic value for it.

Go help our brothers and sisters who are sick, who are suffering. It is not putting up a bunch more clinics. It is investing in the disruptive technologies that are around us right now that are curing people.

I beg this place to think like disruptors. Because good politics are, Oh, we are going to go spend a bunch of money; we are going to put up a bunch more diabetes clinics in my district, and I will look like a hero. Yeah, maybe that is great politics, but you just functionally patched over the misery, the suffering. Go put the resources in a cure.

I did a presentation back in March or April here, talking about a cure for Type 1 diabetes and how it also means part of that will translate to Type 2. I saved some of the really nasty emails I got saying, Oh, that isn't true; it can't happen.

Wait until the last board here. Guess what? There are miracles happening around us. Do you remember a couple weeks here I did a little presentation on messenger RNA? We now have a vaccine.

Now, it is not 100 percent effective. It is only mildly effective. It has to be used for malaria. It looks like we are about to have a vaccine for so many other diseases that plague us. Why aren't we putting our resources into something of that nature? Because if it is 5 percent of our brothers and sisters who are suffering, who are the majority of our healthcare spending--and healthcare spending is what is bankrupting the country--putting up a bunch more clinics doesn't solve the problem.

Also the other absurdity, I will have liberal friends who will say, Well, we did the ACA, known as Obamacare. That was a financing bill. It basically just moved around who got subsidized and who had to pay. It didn't change the price of healthcare. And I hate to say, the Republican alternative did the same thing. We just moved around who got subsidized, who had to pay. I think we did some more things to create some creativity and competitiveness, but that bill died in the Senate. We did pass it out of the House.

But then you will get some that say, Well, how about Medicare for all. Medicare for all doesn't save a dime. Model after model after model says it doesn't save a dime unless you begin rationing--and even then it really doesn't save much.

So what do you do? What are the actual drivers?

You remember that Medicare number that is the primary driver of our debt? Remember on that chart, it was $77 trillion over the next 29 years. And after this year's binge spending, God knows what the new numbers are. Thirty-one percent of Medicare spending is just diabetes, so almost a third of overall healthcare spending is just diabetes.

Take a step and think about it. For someone like myself, who is terrified of that failed bond auction because we have built up so much more debt, and the public--and internationally--they just don't have an appetite for our debt anymore, that becomes the cascade of hell.

If I came to you, and said, Why don't we focus on how to help people not have such misery, and also it would have incredible effects on our fiscal situation.

Madam Speaker, 31 percent of just Medicare is diabetes. So why aren't we doing something like an operation warp speed on diabetes, instead of social spending where we can buy another election with taxpayers' money and then borrow and borrow and borrow, and then use absolute fraud as the pretense of how it is going to be paid for? Or we could do something where we end people's misery, and the future looks brighter and optimistic.

This slide here, I think I brought to the floor in April, and I did a whole little thing about the concept of the technology being developed, and it is really impressive. They have worked on it for years, taking stem cells and adjusting the DNA there to make it--and forgive me if I mispronounce these things--an islet cell and their ability to produce insulin.

I showed this slide--and I still have a few of those emails of folks saying, Stop making things up. This technology can't work. You can't cure diabetes. Well, a couple great articles this weekend--and this is where the optimism is. This is a place of optimism. We live in an amazing country. We have suffered and done great things, and yet we seem to roll in misery these days instead of the fact that we are on the cusp of ending so many individuals' misery, sickness, and maybe even changing the world.

I only did this just so people could visualize. Imagine the concept of grabbing some stem cells. You can grab them now from skin--we have learned all sorts of things. The ability to program them, and then functionally you can teach them to grow into what you need.

If we have that technology, just imagine the diseases, the illnesses, the misery--so you have messenger RNA that now we are about to know how to take on so many viruses, so many other types of diseases. We are now about to have the technology--we actually now do have the technology-- to actually take on other types of diseases where it is failures of certain organs.

Now, I am going to give you one other one, just as part of the thought experiment, before we do the closing board that I am most excited about.

If Congress wanted to have an impact on healthcare costs, what is something we could do in 1 year? What is something we could do-- Republicans and Democrats could do in 1 year? If I came to you right now, and said, In 1 year, you are not going to get all of it, but 16 percent of healthcare spending turns out to be people not taking their pharmaceuticals as they should. You realize that is well over a half a trillion dollars a year.

A half a trillion dollars a year in spending because someone didn't take their high blood pressure pill and they have their stroke. They had trouble and they didn't take their insulin; they didn't do this and that. What if I came to you right now, and said, Instead of nationalizing healthcare and doing this and that, why don't we promote subsidized--make it part of CMS--the technology where the pill bottle cap beeps at grandma when she didn't take her meds?

For someone like myself with high blood pressure--I take my pill religiously--but if I didn't, my phone would beep at me, and say: David, we don't want you to have a stroke. Please take your medicine because we know it works. We know the same thing. How many people do we know who have had clogged arteries, and if they had just taken their statins?

Madam Speaker, 16 percent of all healthcare spending relates back to people not taking their meds. That is $528 billion a year.

There are disruptions. If you take that and then put it into what we already know about the messenger RNA and the fact that there are so many illnesses and diseases--if you read anything, you have to have seen the articles that believe that we are close to a vaccine for HIV, close to a vaccine for herpes. Now you see the vaccine out there for malaria. There are so many amazing things happening, you saw it two boards back.

When I came to this mike back last March and we talked about, Hey, there is maybe this stem cell therapy that is going to turn how to make islet cells that actually could be injected back into someone, and it could be at least the cure for type 1 diabetes.

How many of you saw the articles this weekend? It was only one person; it was the first person they tried it on. Guess what? It works. They have successfully cured someone with type 1 diabetes. That is a million and a half of our brothers and sisters in this Nation.

What are we willing to do to find a way to almost put that type of technology--let's have it be proofed. Are we willing to put it on a production line, just like we have done, messenger RNA on a production line? And now can we also make the really tough policy decisions, are we willing to change the farm bill, nutrition, some of the inputs into type 2 diabetes? And if we can fix those, the articles and papers are saying the same ability to fix the body's ability to make insulin again may be a path to cure type 2 diabetes. If that is true, think about it.

You just saw, the primary driver of U.S. sovereign debt is healthcare costs, Medicare.

Madam Speaker, 31 percent of Medicare spending is just diabetes. Why wouldn't this place take on something that is that obvious, that is loving and compassionate, and also really makes a big difference to our future, both economically and just from a moral health standpoint of loving and caring for our brothers and sisters?

The last thing I will throw out--we are working on a little project in my office and the math is really hard. If you care about things like income inequality and you look at the differentials of our brothers and sisters, like Tribal communities out West, other people that may have urban minority communities that are suffering from type 2 diabetes, we are trying to figure out what would the math look like if those populations had this disease cured?

What would their economics be? Would we actually see so many others able to come back into society, back into the economy, back into trying to develop a life in the middle class?

The crazy thing is our preliminary math--it may turn out that curing a big portion of our population where we see the huge income inequality and helping them get back into society and the economy may be one of the most powerful things, if not maybe the single largest thing, we could do to actually take on income inequality in this country.

Who would have ever thought? It is the math. I want to make the argument that people here who want to make policy by their feelings are crushing individuals, crushing families, crushing the country. People are willing to see love and compassion through actual facts or how we do what is moral and do what is right and also do what makes this country as great as can be.

Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.