Balanced Budget Amendment

Floor Speech

Date: Nov. 15, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. I appreciate the time.

I'm coming to the floor today with joy in my heart, and candidly I would like to come to the floor every day Mr. Speaker, but I don't always get to. But today, I'm here because we're voting on a balanced budget amendment this week. The first time in 15 years.

Now, I'm a freshman in this House, Mr. Speaker. I've been watching the process for a long time, but I've only had a voting card for 10 months. And I came to this Congress to do the big things, not to argue about the petty things. And I tell folks, Mr. Speaker, that very rarely are we arguing about the petty things, that there's a constituent focus to absolutely everything that we do. But the big things. The big things that change the direction of this country that ensure that this experiment in democracy, that our Republic, survives for another generation.

Fifteen trillion dollars in debt, Mr. Speaker.

Do you remember, Mr. Speaker, you don't have the gray hair that I do, but back in the days of Ronald Reagan we were running $200 billion and $300 billion annual deficits. And folks thought the world might be coming to the end. Now, it put the Soviet Union out of business, but it was big money. Who'd of thought we would come to a day where we're actually running $1.4 trillion, $1.5 trillion, $1.6 trillion deficits every year?

Mr. Speaker, as you know, in the people's House where the people's will gets done, we have choices here. In my district, for example, folks want to tax less and spend less. I hear it every day. Rob, tax less and spend less. I'm sure I've got some colleagues on the other side of the aisle whose constituencies want to tax more and spend more.

That is a legitimate debate for us to have in this House. We should have it. But we ought to be able to agree that spending money we don't have harms the future of this Republic. That spending money we don't have mortgages the future of everyone under the age of 20 and threatens the security of everyone over the age of 60.

A balanced budget amendment is one of those things that we can agree on, one of those issues that is not Republican, it's not Democrat, it's not conservative, it's not liberal--it is American.

Thomas Jefferson said if he could have added but one amendment to the Constitution, it would have been one to abolish the power of the government to borrow, because with that one amendment alone, he would be certain of the security of these United States.

Mr. Speaker, that chance is here with us this week for the first time in 15 years.

Now, I confess when I came to Congress, Mr. Speaker, I didn't expect to have to vote for a balanced budget. I just thought we were going to be able to do the right thing and balance the budget on our own. I thought that's the job of the Congress. Do what you're supposed to do. Do what's right. Why do you need an amendment to the Constitution to do what's right? Mr. Speaker, it turned out to be a bigger job than I anticipated. The disagreements turned out to be more fundamental than I anticipated, and the desire of constituents back home turned out to be more complicated than I anticipated. This is our opportunity, though.

I have a copy of the Constitution that we have here. It's right behind my job creators card. And I keep it behind the job creators card because balancing the budget in this country has everything to do with preserving economic opportunity in this country and everything to do with growing our economy in the generation to come. My copy of the Constitution has a little space right there after amendment number 27. A space right here, Mr. Speaker, where we can put amendment number 28 today and ensure that our Republic survives for another generation.

You see what's going on in Europe. There but for the grace of God go we. This is our opportunity. It is not a divisive issue.

It is not an issue that divides north or south, east or west, Republicans or Democrats. It is an issue that unites America. It was a huge bipartisan vote in 1995, and it will be a huge bipartisan vote today.

I hope your telephone lines, Mr. Speaker, are ringing as are mine. If not, why not, Mr. Speaker? Why hasn't everyone in your district called to say, Please support the balanced budget amendment? Why, Mr. Speaker, hasn't everyone in my district called to say, Please support the balanced budget amendment?

Raise taxes, lower taxes; cut spending, raise spending--that's an American decision that we get to decide, but borrowing and putting off those tough decisions to another day is immoral. We have a chance this week to change that.