Solving Our Country's Problems

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 9, 2021
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SCHWEIKERT. Mr. Speaker, forgive me for taking a moment to sort of get organized. That is the hazard when you use far too many boards.

I want to do a couple of things this evening. First, I am going to offer a solution because I believe particularly my brothers and sisters on the left and the administration are in a very bad place on one issue, and I think there is a genuine solution coming maybe within the next couple of weeks.

Then we are going to spend some time talking about something that is often uncomfortable around here, and that is the debt ceiling and the reality of the math and why it is a sin that we are not going to actually engage in the stressor and use that stressor, which is the debt ceiling, to make a couple steps toward reality on what the math looks like.

First off, a little of this is going to come across as a bit sarcastic because I mean it to. But what happened? A year and a half ago, 2 years ago, when COVID came to our shores, came to the world, we had discussions here, often on Zoom. We were going to do the science. We were going to follow the facts and also accept that what we know today will be different tomorrow. We were going to slow down the spread not because we thought we could avoid the virus but because we were worried about emergency rooms and others being overflowed with our brothers and sisters who were sick.

Here we are, approaching almost 2 years later. We have multiple vaccines. We have antibodies. You saw the data, particularly on the Pfizer antiviral therapeutic pill. There is a pill coming--if the data is real, if what we read is real--that is about 89 percent effective. Now, it is a lot of pills you have to take over 5 days, but there is a therapeutic coming that you can take at home. And we have home test kits.

If you will go back to our own rhetoric and the conversations with the scientists and experts, it was always: We don't have a therapeutic.

If it is true, in about 3 weeks, we are going to have a protease inhibitor. If you read the science on it, it is really neat how it snips the protein, keeps it from attaching to the cell. It is remarkable science. It is also going to help us on all sorts of other future viruses. But the ultimate antiviral is almost here.

If this is almost here, why isn't it time to have a simple policy discussion saying: Wasn't this the standard that we were all hoping and waiting for, the technology, the belief in science that would allow us to declare the pandemic over?

By doing that, the dystopian sort of fight that is going on in our society, where the Senate yesterday said no vaccine mandates--what is it now? Five different Federal courts have said it is unconstitutional. Brother after brother, sister after sister, neighbor after neighbor, Republican v. Democrat, where now we have turned it into an article of faith.

The left lives in a ball of fear over the disease, and the right lives in frustration and anger that they believe freedoms are being stripped away in the country.

How about we embrace science? The fact of the matter is, go back a year and a half ago. This was the miracle we were waiting for. It is almost here. Why wouldn't we pass a simple piece of legislation that functionally says: Hey, when the FDA says that we have a successful therapeutic, an antiviral that is really effective, let's declare the pandemic over. Let's get ourselves away from this dystopian polarization that is not based on science anymore.

We have turned it into a religion.

I think we are better than this. The fact of the matter is, we dropped a piece of legislation weeks ago that basically said that. It basically said, when science is victorious, we will embrace the science, declare the pandemic over.

Now, it doesn't mean the virus goes away. It doesn't mean some of our brothers and sisters aren't going to get sick. But the fact of the matter is, the math is the math. We have had more of our brothers and sisters die this year than we did last year.

Do you remember the political rhetoric? Maybe I shouldn't go there. But maybe it really is the moment to consider this, to my brothers and sisters on the left. I am extending you a lifeline. I am giving you a chance to back away from a society of fear and hate to a society that says we conquered.

Please, for anyone who is listening, for my brothers and sisters here in Congress, Mr. Speaker, yourself, give it consideration. Has science won? And if it has, let's embrace it. Let's declare this pandemic over because it stops the cascade effect of removing troops that want to serve to the chaos around here of, you know, we play this fake virtue- signaling game where there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of us sitting here for hours. We are wearing our little masks, but we are all sitting right next to each other talking, and then pulling our masks down to have a drink of water. Come on, it is theater. Let's get back to science.

A few years ago, I remember being here on the floor, and the then Democrat leader got behind the microphone and basically called those of us, who made it very clear we would not vote for a clean debt ceiling, arsonists. And that has bothered me ever since. Because I think actually, in many ways, those of us who did not believe in a clean debt ceiling, raising the debt ceiling once again without some attempt to slow the chaos, slow the spending down, I actually think those of us who wanted to bend the debt curve, we weren't the arsonists. We were actually in some ways the fire prevention crew. We were trying to save the country, save the society.

So first off, does everyone understand how bad the math is? We are functionally borrowing $47,000 every second. We borrow $2,841,000 a minute. Okay. I am going to speak for, what, a half an hour. $2,800,000 is $84 million in the half an hour I am going to speak will be borrowed. $84 million will be borrowed during the half an hour that I speak. But we are functionally borrowing over $4 billion every single day. And we are not heading towards ever paying this off.

And the perverse thing is: Do you understand in a decade that number almost doubles? It almost doubles.

And back to the rhetoric of arson, let's go back over our history over the last 50 years. The only times--well, except for one where, God bless them, in the eighties, they actually took on the shortfalls in Social Security--but you look at the different deals that have been made to bend the debt curve, almost every single one was associated with a debt ceiling. It was that one stressor.

We have all heard over and over, Congress will not do something unless they feel the pressure, unless they feel there is a crisis, unless they are up against the wall. And the game that was played here saying, oh, let's just change the rules for the Senate. Let's make it so they can do it with 50 votes and that way we can just pass this. We won't have to deal with the reality of burying people's future retirements and destroying my little girl's future in debt. We can just avoid it and go home and have a nice Christmas.

But the fact of the matter is, almost every agreement we have had has been associated with the stressor that was brought on by a debt ceiling.

Gramm-Rudman, 1985 and functionally again in 1987. Debt limit increase associated with it. Deficit reduction and automatic spending and budget triggers.

Paygo. I can't tell you how many times the Democrats here preach paygo to me, except for the fraud that paygo really is, where on the fifth year we will just pretend it no longer costs anything, therefore, it doesn't fall under the paygo rules. But the paygo rules functionally every time--four times was associated with changing the borrowing limits of the country, the debt ceiling. It was supposed to create deficit reduction, and it did create some. Spending increases must be offset, and that is the ultimate cultural change that paygo produced. But remember, it came about because of a debt ceiling fight, multiple debt ceiling fights.

Budget Control Act. Do you remember how controversial this one was? We actually had a government shutdown and other things associated with this. But the Budget Control Act, the sequestration that came with that, if you look at it, it was the most successful in modern times of bending the spending curve. The problem is it is all on discretionary. And we all know the fraud around here is discretionary is now down to, what? 10 percent or so. Actually, no. Fifteen percent of what we actually spend, if you strip military out. Military is now 10 percent. The rest of discretionary is 15 percent. The other 70-plus percent is functionally on autopilot.

But this is the truth. Democrats have control of this place. They control the White House. They control the Senate. They control the House. Okay. Bless their precious hearts. But we could have used this as a stressor, and there have been lots of, oh, my hair is on fire. The world is coming to an end. I am worried about the stock market, oh, wink, wink, nod, nod. And the stock market just goes on because they know we will fix something. But used it as an excuse, even if we have to tell our constituents why we are trying to do something tough. Because remember, the lobbyists here in this town aren't here to help us reduce spending. They are here with their hands out wanting more spending.

This place is functionally, structurally designed to get everything you can, and hell be damned one day when we hit that failed bond auction. And you all saw today, it wasn't a big deal, but today's bond auction was slightly undersubscribed when U.S. sovereign debt was being sold. I am not saying it is a canary in a coal mine, but the canary did have a little cough.

And so here is what we are going to do today. I think the Senate may be voting at this moment. We are just functionally going to do a debt increase, probably we come back on Tuesday, we still don't know what the number is going to be or maybe we do the fraud of just do it to a date. Will there be any deficit reduction? Any attempt, any anything to force some rational math of what is going on?

No. Because it is uncomfortable because we have to tell the truth about the drivers of our debt.

And what are the drivers of our debt? Okay. I have said this over and over, but we need to be honest. The left will say, oh, it is military, it is rich people not paying enough taxes. The right, we have our sins, too. We will say, oh, it is foreign aid, oh, it is waste and fraud.

No, it is not.

The primary driver of U.S. sovereign debt is, we are getting old. It is demographics. And demographics aren't Republican or Democrat, it is math. And you have got to understand how sharp this curve is.

We are functionally right here. So here is 2022. Functionally 17 percent of our population is over 65 today. You do see how fast we start getting up to close to 22 percent of our population being over 65. This is the driver of our debt.

Remember the math. And I am going to do it a couple of times here. And I am sorry this upsets people because they don't want us to tell the truth.

The primary driver of U.S. sovereign debt is Medicare. Simply Medicare. And then Social Security. And the rest of the budget actually is in balance. So the next 30 years the rest of the budget is actually in balance. It is demographics.

If you made a pledge when you ran for office around here that you were going to protect people's retirement, you were going to protect Social Security, you were going to protect Medicare, letting it be buried in debt, how is that protecting it? Tell the truth.

And there are solutions. I have come behind this mike so many times and said: There is technology out there. There are things we can do to crash the price of healthcare. There are policies we can do to grow the economy. Everything should be fixated on what maximizes economic growth.

And then the left moves something, Build Back Better, their social entitlement spending that the data says it slows down the economy. We will be poorer and smaller, and the working poor will be poorer at the end of the decade because of the way they designed their social entitlement spending legislation.

We are doing everything half-assed backwards. If you lay out, sort of the holistic theory, sort of the integrated model, yes, you have to fix immigration, but you focus on immigration being about maximizing economic expansion, not importing poverty; adoption of technology that maximizes people being healthy, and cures.

Remember last week, we came here and talked about the miracle from last week that we have cured someone of type 1 diabetes? Because remember, 31 percent of all our spending in Medicare is just on type 2 diabetes. What happens if you do cures and end people's misery? Oh, by the way, you get amazing benefits on our debt.

The immediate reaction you will get from people on the left is, well, Schweikert got behind the mike and wanted to cut entitlements. No, I am trying to find a way to save them. But you save them by changing the cost curve. You save them by having a moment.

Pretend you are at a 12-step group. Isn't the first step to admit you have a problem? This place can't make it to step one.

So let's do a little math.

And I am sorry, I do this over and over, but I continue to be just shocked at the number of staff around here who will grab me in the elevator and say, Is that number real? Is this real? And you say this is the single biggest issue policywise facing Washington, facing this country? And we will chase shiny objects because shiny objects don't make your brain hurt. We will have asinine discussions about, oh, there is a vaccine database, there is this, there is that, and you realize it is a con. That is part of the scam this place does is look at the shiny object. We chase that because this hurts.

Reality. And this number is worse today. This is based on last year's math. $112 trillion inflation-adjusted public borrowing in 29 years. $112 trillion of borrowing will be our publicly held debt in 29 years, 77.7 of that is just Medicare, 34.8 is Social Security, the rest of the Federal budget is in balance.

This is just demographics. The cure is economic growth and crashing the price of healthcare. This will drive every bit of public policy, and it is coming very fast.

If you look at our borrowing curve, in a decade we go from what is projected these days where we are going to be borrowing a trillion dollars a year to a couple trillion dollars a year. The debt will and the borrowing will and the interest will drive all policy. And this place right now the policy is worrying about how to get reelected than saving the country and the future.

Do you understand, a 2-point increase in interest rates from nominal interest rates that have been projected, if we go up just 2 percent-- and that is getting us actually closer to what the historic mean is--in 2051, 100 percent of revenues go just to pay interest. How come this isn't the number one discussion here?

Now the left may have different ways to approach it than those of us on the right, but you would think this would be all we could talk about. And it is avoided around here like a virus, except we haven't figured out how to put a mask on it and give it social distancing, have we?

And for my brothers and sisters on the left, the number of times I will try to sit down in working groups with my Democratic colleagues-- and I believe their heart may be in the right place, they don't own a calculator, their math isn't there, but we make public policy by our feelings in this place. We make public policy because it feels good, it has a great title. We get judged by our intentions, not by our outcomes. And that is incredibly dangerous.

So think about some of the rhetoric. And I have done presentations here where I walk through every single revenue, the proper term is receipts generating proposal from the left. And if you did all of them and pretended they had no economic effects, no secondary effects--all of them--you still can't come close to raising enough revenues. Even a 100 percent tax rate on small businesses and upper-income families could not come close to balancing the long-term budget. You can take all the rich people's money and all the revenues from those small businesses that they own. You can take every dime.

This is a percentage of the GDP number. When you get into these sorts of numbers, you start doing the percentage to GDP. We are heading towards 15 percent of GDP functionally being borrowing. And if you take every dime, you only get about 5 percent to GDP.

We are screwed. And I am sorry, I know that is crass, but I just don't know how to get folks to want to pay attention to it. This is the single-most important thing going on here. If you care about education, if you care about health, if you care about science, if you care about space, if you care about equality, if you care about these things, when there is no more money, when every dime of resources goes, so we survive and do our best to avoid that failed bond auction--which God forbid, if it does and interest rates spike, do you have any idea how fragile we have made our society?

And this isn't often the future. This is today. We will kiss up close to, what is it, $30 trillion in borrowing, probably in the next few months. These are unthinkable numbers, and it is here.

And you have got to understand, these projections are based on this concept, a really simple one: There is going to be no more wars. There is not going to be another pandemic. There is not going to be an economic collapse. There is not going to be a mortgage collapse.

We have done this to ourselves. And then the left comes here and we do things like the Build Back Better, the social spending bill, which ultimately--and we have different numbers because God knows what the Senate is going to do--but the simple scoring from CBO basically said at year 5 it has borrowed another $800 billion.

Oh, by the way, wink wink, nod nod, after year 5, we will actually stop all these programs and we will start to raise revenues to pay it off. We are functionally going to add another $4 trillion-plus from borrowing.


Mr. SCHWEIKERT. Mr. Speaker, the social spending bill, at the end of the decade, you realize the economy will have missed tremendous amounts of economic growth, some of the best models coming from the Tax Foundation. We are actually making ourselves poorer because of the design of the spending. When you tell people, I am going to send you a check but you don't have to work. When I am putting money into things that don't actually create productivity.

Remember, what are the two ways you pay people more money? Inflation. Well, that doesn't get you anywhere. Or productivity. That was one of the miracles at the end of the 2017 tax reform, is the resources that went for companies to buy equipment to be more productive so they could pay their workers more. And you saw it. You saw a miracle of employment and wage growth.

And then the cynicism that when two-thirds of millionaires get tax cuts under the Democrat's build back better plan. So you tell us the rich need to pay their fair share and then you design pieces of legislation that give hundreds of billions of dollars to rich people. And then you tell us, oh, by the way, we should put State and local back into it, but most of it goes to really rich people.

You want revenues. We did a whole presentation here a few months ago that said we can show you over 10 years $1.4 trillion you can get. Stop subsidizing really really rich people. Instead, the left does a piece of legislation to subsidize them more. I guess my intense frustration is we are heading--it may not be the bubble where the economy blows up--but we are heading to a type of rot because so much of this Nation's resources will be used to survive the amount of debt we have piled up. And then we are adopting policies that don't create any type of escape philosophy of, we are curing diseases that drive the debt because most of the debt is driven by healthcare. We are doing investments in things that grow the economy. We are getting immigration codes and regulatory codes and other things. We are modernizing them so they maximize economic opportunity because we actually give a darn about poor people. We give a darn about the working poor. We give a darn about people who are heading toward retirement. We give a darn about young people having a future. And not one of those things is actually in the math; it is in the rhetoric. People spin some great stories here but it is not in the math. It is just not in the math. It is not in the economic analysis.

The universities that have looked at what is going on right now tell us that at the end of the decade, the poor are going to be poorer. Come on. What type of economic violence is this place willing to subject the working poor, the middle class to? We are better than this. And there is a path.

Mr. Speaker, you are not going to pay off the debt, but we could adopt enough policies to flatten the curve that my 6-year-old daughter actually has a future. And doesn't she deserve one.