Our goal as Republicans is to make sensible reductions in this spending and create a better environment for job growth, not to shut down the government. Getting our debt and deficits under control is the first step we can take, and the single most important step Washington can take, to get our economy moving and create the jobs we so badly need.
Full transcript of Senator Portman's Address:
"I'm Rob Portman. I am proud to represent the people of Ohio as a new United States Senator. What I heard in my travels to every county in Ohio over the past couple of years, and what I continue to hear across our state, is a deep concern over jobs and the future of our economy. There is an understandable frustration with Washington's failure to address even the most basic problems.
"People are looking for leadership to help create jobs and opportunity and instead what they see is the same, tired political responses. We were told two years ago this month that the way to grow the economy was through bigger government, more spending, and more borrowing. The Stimulus plan ended up costing over a trillion dollars when you include the interest on the money that had to be borrowed to pay for it. It was a grand experiment that failed. It not only failed to produce new jobs, an economic boost the Obama Administration promised, the trillion dollar price tag, combined with higher levels of spending across government, added up to a record deficit again this year and a national debt that is now dangerously close to the size of the entire U.S. economy. This growing red ink is hurting the economy today and mortgaging the future for our kids and grandkids.
"So we've had to relearn the lesson we all know in our hearts: you can't spend your way to prosperity. As American families have tightened their belts over the past couple of years and businesses have had to do more with less, the federal government has taken the opposite path, spending more, growing bigger, and becoming more involved in our economy and our lives.
"This historic failure to control spending directly affects our economy and the ability to create jobs. It pushes up interest rates, crowds out private investment, and leaves us with three bad choices, either far higher taxes, even more borrowing, or both. Left unchecked, these mounting debts could lead to the kind of financial crises we've seen in Greece and other countries. At the same time, job creators tell us Washington has added to the uncertainty by pursuing other policies that stifle job growth, including onerous new federal regulations, a tax code that expires, making it a political football, unpredictable rising health care costs, and an increasing reliance on the Mideast and other volatile parts of the world for our energy. It's time to change course.
"There is an urgency about this that the American people get even while many in Washington seem to be in denial. We must rise to the challenge and work together to meet our economic and fiscal problems head-on by putting in place pro-growth measures and spending restraint and we must do it now.
"This means enacting new tax policies that take away uncertainty and encourage innovation and investment and make us more competitive in a global economy. It means real health care reform that truly reduces costs, helping working families and small businesses afford access, and addressing the biggest cost-driver in entitlement programs that everyone acknowledges are unsustainable. It means sensible regulatory reform that reverses the growing burdens on employers that drive jobs overseas. It means a national energy policy that uses our own resources to stop our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, and it means stopping the red ink that threatens to swamp our economy.
"Once a year Presidents are required to submit a federal budget that sets out a vision for the coming year and into the future. It is a leadership opportunity and a solemn responsibility. There was a lot of anticipation surrounding the President's budget release last week. After all, President Obama had repeatedly and eloquently described the dire fiscal condition of the nation and he promised action. In last year's budget proposal, he established a Fiscal Commission that issued a stern report in November calling for deep spending reductions to stave off a fiscal and economic disaster. The President himself has rightly pointed out, 'What we have done is kicked the can down the road,' and 'we are now at the end of the road and [are] not in a position to kick it any further.'
"And, yet, the President's budget did exactly that. He rejected the dire warnings and recommendations of his own Fiscal Commission and not only kicked the can down the road but made the road more perilous by advocating deeper debt and ignoring bipartisan calls for entitlement reform and pro-growth policies, including tax reform and regulatory restraint.
"Instead of making the tough choices all Americans know are necessary to get our fiscal house in order and strengthen our economy, the President's budget locks in the higher levels of spending over the past two years and doubles the national debt. As the Democrat co-chairman of the President's Fiscal Commission said, 'it goes nowhere near where they'll have to go' to address our fiscal problems.
"Having chosen to duck the tough choices for the coming year and beyond, the President and Democrats in Congress are now objecting to any reductions in spending Congress can control in the current budget year. This is despite the fact that this year's $1.6 trillion deficit is at record levels, and over the past two years under Democrat leadership, this type of spending has increased 24 percent, and over 80 percent if you include the Stimulus. Our goal as Republicans is to make sensible reductions in this spending and create a better environment for job growth, not to shut down the government. Getting our debt and deficits under control is the first step we can take, and the single most important step Washington can take, to get our economy moving and create the jobs we so badly need.
"In Ohio and around the country, people are looking for common sense leadership to get us back on track. They know what we Americans are capable of, the innovation, invention and millions of new jobs that are within our grasp if Washington will act with resolve to create the climate for success. But they know that we risk the American dream becoming a fiscal nightmare if we do not act, and act now to do what's right.
"Thank you for listening."