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Rand Paul

$31 trillion in debt: How Democrats and Republicans are both bankrupting America

Remarks delivered on the Senate floor, December 20, 2022:

If this is winning, I’m getting tired of winning.

GOP Leadership declares the Pelosi-Schumer spending bill is a victory. Well, not unless you define victory as adding over a trillion dollars in new debt. So really, there is a debate, a big debate within the Republican Party. Which is more important? Is it more important to add $45 billion to military spending, or is it more important not to add another $1 trillion to our overall debt?

We now have a $31 trillion debt. We're adding over $1 trillion a year. And yet Republican leadership says this is a victory because we're getting more military spending. But it's a victory at what expense? Are we actually more secure? Are we safer? Is our national security more protected by spending more on the military? Or is our national security actually more threatened by incurring more debt?

I would argue the latter. $31 trillion in debt is the number one threat to our national security.

It’s the week before Christmas, and predictably, Congress is considering yet another $1.7 trillion spending package that we haven’t had a chance to see or even read, let alone debate.

Late Monday night, at 1:30 in the morning, the text for this 4,155-page spending spree was released. If you thought Congress couldn’t possibly spend more money than it did last year, you would be wrong.

This omnibus bill increases spending by 10 percent compared to last year’s budget. You would think that nearly two years of 40-year-high inflation would create some hesitation.

You would think that a looming recession, spurred largely by exorbitant government spending, would give this Congress pause.

But instead of taking a minute to consider what a responsible federal government budget would look like, we are instead placed behind the barrel of a gun, forcing us to choose between skipping Christmas with our families or blindly passing a $1.7 trillion spending package that not only does not balance, but in fact, spends over 10 percent more than last year.

And how does Congress spend taxpayer money? Here are just a few examples of how your government currently spends money.

We found that last year they spent $2.3 million to inject Beagles with cocaine to see if cocaine causes adverse effects. It seems that their researchers, despite the pain they inflicted on these dogs, were curious to know if cocaine causes adverse effects. Guess what? Read the newspaper. Read the news. Look at the addicts across our country. You think you need to inject beagles with cocaine to know that cocaine is a bad deal?

$700,000 was spent to study how male parrots attract their mate. Really? We've got people who go hungry in our country. We’ve got people that are trying to get out from behind poverty. And we're spending $700,000 studying how male parrots attract a female.

We spent $187,000 to study whether or not dogs help kids cope. Of course they do. Ask any pet owner. Any pet owner could have told you, and we would have saved the taxpayer $187,000.

We spent $118,000 to study if a metal replica, a robot of Marvel Comics evil warlord Thanos, could snap his finger. $118,000. Really. They apparently hired some dude to wear metal gloves and then try to snap his fingers. You know what? They found out that it's impossible to make a snapping sound with metal fingers. So robots of the world be warned…It's hard to snap your fingers.

While we continue to spend ourselves into oblivion, almost every single European nation is working to shrink their deficit.

We routinely look to Europe and we say, look how liberal. Look how big government. Look how socialized, and yet most of Europe actually balances their annual budget.

In 2019, 15 out of 26 European countries ran budget surpluses. Another 8 European countries ran deficits of less than 3 percent of their GDP. While here in the U.S., the deficit, in 2019, was 6.7 percent of GDP. Europe is a glaring example that fiscal responsibility is possible, it’s not a pipe dream.

In fact, if we just cut our spending to what we spent in 2019, just three years ago, we would have a balanced budget. Instead, we have jumped from a deficit of 6 percent of GDP in 2019 to a deficit of 12 percent in 2021.

We are adding debt at a greater pace than we ever have in the history of our country.

Thankfully, some of our predecessors in Congress anticipated the lack of restraint this body would have when it came to budgeting. Lawmakers that came before us established guardrails and tools to keep our budget in check. For example, the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act, or PAYGO for short, requires cuts to offset new spending.

Despite equipping our government with this necessary tool, Congress, with almost every budget in recent history, abuses its power, spends like drunken sailors, and ignores the fact that a day of reckoning is coming.

Unfortunately, Congress has virtually 100 percent of the time voted to waive the PAYGO requirements.

The American people demand accountability for the damage the big government spenders are doing to our families’, and our nation’s, economic wellbeing. I will not allow my colleagues to escape accountability by hiding behind four-thousand pages of legislative text.

I, therefore, will raise a budget point of order that will put every member of the Senate on record as to where they stand on fiscal responsibility.

Unfortunately, most of the senators, even if they share my sentiments, know that this point of order will be waived, as they almost always are, by three-fifths of the Senate.

They think they can quietly vote this way, and no one will notice. Well, when American voters finally notice that people here are saying one thing at home and doing another, that they are promising balancing budgets and promising that deficits do matter and then coming up here and vote the opposite way… one day the American electorate will wake up and vote these hypocrites out.

There are many other points of order that can be raised on this. The budget rules are actually of some value if we would actually obey the rules. Some of the people, you see them in their states there at campaign rallies, they'll tell you at town halls, they'll tell you on the Senate floor that we absolutely must get spending under control.

They'll tell you that the debt is a problem. They'll tell you that it's a terrible way to run government, to have an omnibus. It's terrible to watch $6 trillion together in one bill. Release it at 1:30 in the morning and pass it, and you can read about it and find out what is in it later. I suspect you will find a lot of promises, though, that will be violated as we vote on these PAYGO restrictions.

Realize that this is the law. The law of the land says you can't do this. Congress in passing this omnibus is breaking the law. The statute says very clearly they cannot do this. The only way they actually can evade responsibility is when they change the law. They say, oh, well, it'd be embarrassing to get rid of the law. We will waive the law.

So we have laws for decades that could actually right our fiscal house and put us on a course towards balancing our budget, and the rules are waived. They disobey their own rules.

Congress does a disservice to the economy every time it waives these points of order. What good are these procedures if they are never upheld? What started as formal guard rails to keep the fiscal health of this nation strong is now merely just a messaging tool with no real significance that allows Senators to get away with making promises they never intended to keep.

That is why, in addition to raising a point of order, I am introducing an amendment to reform our budget enforcement procedures by raising the threshold to waive a point of order from three-fifths to two-thirds.

I say, let's make it less easy for them to break the rules. Currently, 60 senators can break the rules. Let's make it two thirds. Let's make it 67 senators necessary to break the rules. Why? Because they're bankrupting this country. Both sides of the aisle. There's an unholy alliance between both parties. One party wants more welfare. One wants more warfare. It's either the military industrial complex or the welfare industrial complex.

But what happens inevitably every year is spending goes up. People come in, the journalists ask them, what will happen? What will happen with Christmas here? The only thing that is known to happen in this body is that both parties will continue to add to the debt. And there is a day when you wake up and the dollar is worthless.

Right now, the dollar is losing nearly 10% of its value on an annual basis. But there is a day when it's 10% a day, or 10% an hour. Great countries have succumbed to the destruction of currency, and it happens through debt, through deficit financing, and it's coming to us. There is a day of reckoning unless we wake up and say enough is enough, we're going to do the prudent and rational thing, we're going to balance our budget.

It's time that we take our nation's health seriously, and it's time that we show concern for those who are being damaged and devastated by inflation. The inflation at the grocery store, at the gas pump, who does it hurt the worst? It hurts those on fixed incomes and senior citizens. It hurts the working class and the poor. Those who have most of their expenditures that go towards consumption, towards their food and groceries and gas. People who spend 90% of what they earn on buying the stuff that allows them to live are the people that are decimated by inflation.

So, if there are people in Congress who do care, who do really care about those who are struggling with the burden of inflation, the best way is to quit digging the hole deeper. Quit adding to the debt and do what even European countries can do. And that's begin to balance our budget.

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