WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Rand Paul urged his colleagues to put a stop to Washington’s runaway spending and pass a balanced budget. In a speech delivered on the Senate floor, Dr. Paul explained his opposition to Senate Con. Res 3, legislation he pointed out will add $9.7 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years without ever balancing. To present a conservative path forward, Dr. Paul will introduce an amendment to the bill that would balance the budget while still repealing Obamacare.
“Ten trillion worth of new debt. I'm not for it. That's not why I ran for office,” said Dr. Paul. “It's not why I'm here. It's not why I spend time away from my family and from my medical practice. It's because debt is consuming our country.”
“At the appropriate time, I will introduce an amendment that will strike and replace this budget, and in its place, I will put forward a conservative vision for the country.”
Dr. Paul’s balanced budget amendment will:
- Balance the budget by 2024 while still repealing Obamacare
- Freeze all on-budget spending without making changes to Social Security.
- Start in 2018, giving agencies time to prepare for new spending levels.
- Contain zero specific cuts to any function of government – allowing the new administration and Congress to work together to prioritize spending.
You can find a transcript of Dr. Paul’s remarks and a video of his speech below.
The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. Republicans won the White House. Republicans control the Senate. Republicans control the House. And what will the first order of business be for the new Republican majority?
To pass a budget that never balances. To pass a budget that will add $9.7 trillion of new debt over ten years. Is that really what we campaigned on? Is that really what the Republican Party represents? Our first order of business will be a budget that never balances. A budget that adds $9.7 trillion to the debt, and they tell us, “Oh, but it’s not a budget.” If you listen, they will say, “No, no. It is a ‘vehicle to repeal Obamacare.’” And yet I have the title in front of me. It says a “Concurrent Resolution for the budget of 2017."
We have special rules when you pass the budget that we may be able to repeal Obamacare, and I'm all for that. But why should we vote on a budget that doesn't represent our conservative view? Why would we vote on a budget that adds $9.7 trillion to the debt?
Because we're in a hurry. We can't be bothered. It's just numbers. I was told again and again, “Swallow it. Take it. They're just numbers. Don't worry; it's not really a budget.” And yet the legislation says it is a budget. The numbers say it will add $9.7 trillion of new debt. And so I say, if they're only numbers, and if the numbers don't matter what's in the budget, why don't we put numbers in that balance? Why don't we put a vision into the budget that represents what Republicans say they are for? Republicans say they are the conservative party. Are we? When George W. Bush was president for eight years, the national debt went from $5 trillion to $10 trillion. The debt doubled under a Republican president and a partially Republican Congress. And yet the words were, “Well, he had Democrats to deal with, and if we could ever take all three branches of government, things would be different.”
The Republicans took over the House in 2010. They still didn't control the Senate, but they said, “If we only controlled the Senate, we can be the conservative party again.” We've had an election. The conservative party, the supposedly conservative party, won. Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the presidency, and the first item of business for the Republicans will be to pass a budget that never balances, a budget that will add $9.7 trillion to the debt over ten years. This sign could have been put up for Obama's first budget. Every Republican railed and said, “$10 trillion! President Obama will add $10 trillion.” And he did.
President Obama doubled the debt again. It went from $5 (trillion) to $10 (trillion). The national debt went from $5 trillion to $10 trillion under George W. Bush, and then it doubled again under President Obama. It went from $10 (trillion) to nearly $20 (trillion), and what are we looking at here? More debt, under a solidly unified Republican Congress and a Republican president. So you might scratch your head and say, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Is it all smoke and mirrors? Is there really a difference? Are Republicans different than Democrats? Pretty important question. We are in such a hurry to repeal Obamacare. I’m all for it. As a physician, nobody thinks that Obamacare has been worse for the country. Nobody other than me thinks it is a terrible piece of legislation that has not helped the country and has inflated our costs and not helped. And yet, do we have to add nearly $10 trillion of debt in order to get at it?
So as this moves forward, I will offer a replacement. I will offer my own budget. I will offer to strike and remove $10 trillion worth of debt, and I will offer my own budget that balances within five years. How do we do it? We give the authority to make the cuts, where they should be, where they're most wasteful in government, and we offer this budget by simply freezing expenditures. You don't have to cut any expenditures. Every department of government could get what they got the last year. If you think some departments of government need more money, cut other departments of government. Frankly, there are some departments of government you could eliminate, and you would never know they were gone. If the Department of Commerce were gone, a few corporate executives would not be able to fly around on government jets. They could fly around on their own jets. You would never know the whole, entire Department of Commerce were gone.
You can cut spending. You could actually get to balance by not cutting anything. So here's what happens. If you freeze the on-budget spending, within a little over five years your budget balances. I remember a time when there were the moderates who were for freezing spending, and the real conservatives were cutting spending. Now nobody is for cutting spending. When I bring it up that you cannot balance a budget, you can absolutely not balance a budget, if you're not willing to look at entitlements, you know what I'm told by many well-meaning Republicans? “Don't write it down. Don't put it on paper because people will be upset with you if you explain that to save Social Security, to save Medicare, you will have to reform these entitlement programs.” They say, “Let's just talk about waste. Let's just talk about fraud and abuse.” And I do, and we should eliminate all of those. But guess what?
If you eliminate all of the budgetary spending that we vote on -- this is called the discretionary spending -- this would be the military and all the rest of the nonmilitary. It is about $1 trillion not including the entitlements: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. If you did just the military and the nonmilitary, and you reduced it 10% a year for ten years, and you virtually wiped out all of discretionary spending, you still don't balance the budget.
So really you're not a conservative if you're not willing to look at all government spending. The budget cannot be balanced, and the budget will never balance, unless you look at entitlements. What does that mean? It means that because of demographics -- this means that we had big families 60 years ago: three, four, five kids a family. And now we have less than three kids a family, probably two kids a family. So you had all the baby boomers born right after World War II. And they're all retiring, 60 million of them. So this huge population boom, and you don't have as many workers. So the demographics aren't working. You add to that the fact that we're living longer. So when Social Security was started, the average life expectancy was 65. So it worked pretty well as a pension plan because you died. But now it’s great, we're living on average to 80. And if you make 80, you may well make 90. What a great thing, longevity. But it is not working. Social Security is not working. We spend more on recipients than we bring in in the tax. Medicare is even worse. The average taxpayer pays about $100,000 over their lifetime in Medicare taxes. The average recipient takes out $350,000. How big a problem is this?
Medicare is $35 to $40 trillion in the hole. It is inexcusable that we're not talking about how we fix Medicare. It is inexcusable that we're not talking about how to fix Social Security. If you don't fix them, there's going to be a cliff. Within about a decade, the cliff is so severe, that everyone on Social Security will suffer a 20% decline in their monthly check. It'll happen all at once if you don't fix it. Can you fix it? Yeah, you got to talk about it. But what we're doing today is kicking the can down. We got our focus on Obamacare, but we're taking our focus off the debt. As bad a problem as Obamacare is, as much as it's destroyed and distorted the health care market, it may well be that the debt is a bigger problem.
So it’s not a popular stand that I take today. I will be the only Republican to vote against the Republican budget. That won't be popular, but I ran for office -- I left my medical practice; I am away from my family; I spend long hours traveling up here because I am concerned about the debt. We borrow $1 million a minute. The debt threatens the very foundation of our country. And yet here we are. The Republican Party controls the House, the Senate, and the White House, and in their haste, they put forward a budget that's going to add this much debt. This is what the debt has been doing.
Here's 1980. You see the growth. It's become exponential, the growth of the debt. This should worry every American. But here's the Republican ten-year budget that we're getting ready to pass. It's virtually a vertical line of accumulation of debt. People will say, “But how could we ever cut any spending?” I'll give you a couple of examples of where your government spends money, and you tell me whether or not we ought to look long and hard about cutting spending.
There was a grant given for autism. I have a great deal of sympathy. I know children with autism. For $700,000. But you know what they spent it on? They spent it studying Neil Armstrong's statement. Remember Neil Armstrong? Landed on the moon, and he said, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Well, your government in their infinite wisdom wanted to know, did he say, "one small step for man" or "one small step for a man"? Your government spent $700,000 studying the preposition "a." Did he say "a man" or just "man?" $700,000. Money that should have been spent on autism was spent on something frivolous.
Is anybody going to fix it? No! Every year, all of the spending bills are glommed together in a 2,000-page bill and not one iota of reform. Do you remember -- Senator Proxmire from the 70s used to have something called the “Golden Fleece Award.” Every one of those things he complained about in the 1970s happens now, but tenfold greater. Nobody fixes it. We don't pass individual spending bills. We do continuing resolutions, which means we continue doing the same thing we've done over and over again. $700,000 spent studying Neil Armstrong's statement, and you know what their conclusion was? We're not sure. They spent $700,000, and they're still not sure. Did he say "a man" or "one small step for man"?
We spent $500,000 studying whether or not, when you take a selfie, if you’re smiling in the selfie, does it ultimately make you feel better? $500,000. And so what do we do? Do we give these people less money? Teach them a lesson. Give them less money, and maybe they'll conserve the money. Maybe they'll eliminate waste if they have less money next year than they had this year. Or, what I’m proposing. Freeze the spending. Is anybody proposing that? No. We say, “They spent a half a million dollars on selfies? Give them more next year.” So the Republican budget will increase spending every year. It increases spending at about 5% a year. So spending goes up, and they say, “It's the baseline.” And they say, “We're cutting off the baseline.” No, no, the baseline goes up 5% a year. Spending will increase over the ten-year period. The red line is spending. Part of that is what the Republicans are proposing. They are going to stay on the spending curve.
If we stay on the spending curve, they will continue to spend $700,000 studying Neil Armstrong's statement. They will continue to spend a half a million dollars on selfies. They spent another half a million dollars on a climate change game. They spent $45 million to build a natural gas gas station in Afghanistan. $45 million. First problem? Nobody in Afghanistan has a car that runs on natural gas. They discovered this after they built the gas station. The gas station was 86 times cost overrun. The original estimate was about a half a million for the gas station, but lo and behold, somehow it costs $45 million.
If your government had 86 times cost overrun, would you give them more money or give them less money? I frankly think we should give them less money. If you give them more money, they will not waste it less. They will waste it the same or worse. They should be given less money. Mazar-e Sharif is a city in northern Afghanistan. We built an $85 million embassy there. We signed a ten-year lease. And then somebody looked at the place and decided that since there were tall buildings surrounding the entire entity, that people would shoot down into the courtyard and kill our diplomat, and they said this building can never be occupied, after they spent $85 million, after they spent a ten-year lease. How will they get better? The people who made this decision, were they fired? No. They’re federal employees, and you never fire federal employees. Will they make wiser decisions because we give them less money? No. We give them more money. You would be excused for being upset if you went and voted and said, “I'm going to vote for the conservative party.” If you went and voted and said, “I'm going to vote for the party that's going to balance the budget. “Wouldn't you be upset? Wouldn't you wonder which party that is?
This is the spending curve. We're going to add $9.7 trillion in ten years. And yet they say, “Oh, no, no. This isn't really a budget.” I’ve got it in front of me, though. It is a budget. There is no reason why Republicans couldn't have put forward a budget that doesn't add all the red ink. We're at $20 trillion. We're going to go to nearly $30 trillion under the Republican plan.
My goodness. What happened? Where is the conservative party? Where are the conservatives in Congress that would say, “Enough's enough”? Now they say, “We just have to be done with this. Don't distract the little people. Don't let the people of the country know that we're voting on a budget. We're going to call this the ‘vehicle to repeal Obamacare.’” Well, that's not what it is. It's a budget. And we have special rules for dealing with the budget that allow us to repeal Obamacare, which I'm all for, but this is a budget. And they say, “Well, how could we get the votes?” No Democrats will vote for this budget. This is a Republican blueprint. Not one Democrat will vote for this.
So this is what Republicans are for. This is the blueprint that the Republican Party says they're for. $10 trillion worth of new debt. I'm not for it. That's not why I ran for office. It's not why I'm here. It's not why I spend time away from my family and from my medical practice. It's because debt is consuming our country. There is a time and a place to debate Obamacare, and I'm more than willing to debate that, but this is a budget. This is a vote on a budget. They say, “Oh, it's just a gimmick; it's just a game. The numbers don't mean anything.” Well, if the numbers don't mean anything, put honest numbers in there or put conservative numbers in there.
I for one will put forward a conservative opposition to the Republican majority's budget. I will put forward a budget that freezes spending and balances the budget over a five-year period. Would there be some agencies that would get less money? Yes. But it would force us to go through the government and pick and choose what is good spending and what is not good spending. If you go through, we have a Waste Report that we put out. If you will look on our Facebook, you can find our Waste Report. Hundreds. I listed four or five of the most egregious. There are hundreds and hundreds if not thousands of things we shouldn't be spending money on.
I'll give you another example. We have spent $100 billion, or we have sold $100 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia. They were wanting to spend money giving F-16s to Pakistan. You pay for them and give them to them. Riddled throughout the Pentagon. Look, the Pentagon has never been audited. You're surprised? Government that's never been audited. The Federal Reserve's not audited. The Pentagon's not audited. And so what is the Pentagon's response to being audited? The Pentagon says to us, “We're too big to be audited.” I don't know about you, but that makes me kind of angry, that a part of your government, even a necessary part such as national defense, says they're too big to be audited. Meanwhile, we have $85 million embassies built that would never be occupied, $45 million gas stations that will never be used. I think it's time that we look at and say, “Enough's enough.” Don't give government more money, give them less. Government, they haven't been a good steward of your money.
It's often asked, the question is asked, are the people who spend your money, are the people involved in government inherently stupid? It's kind of a debatable question. I think they're mostly well intentioned. I don't think they're inherently stupid, but I do think that they don't get the right incentives, because there is no profit motive in government, because there is no rationale or modus to conserve, money is spent. And because of sheer laziness and ineptitude, we continue to pass the spending bills, glommed together, thousands of pages without reform. But I won't be party to that. I won't vote for the spending bills that are not individualized and don't have reforms in them. I won't vote for budgets that never balance. So while I may be a lonely voice on this issue, I will continue to bring up to the American people that it is important not to add more debt; it is important to slow down the accumulation of debt. It is important that we have a $20 trillion debt, and I'm not willing to add $10 trillion more in debt.
So, Mr. President, at the appropriate time, I will introduce an amendment that will strike and replace this budget, and in its place, I will put forward a conservative vision for the country, a vision of a balanced budget that balances within five years. Every Republican in the Congress that has been here for a while has voted for a balanced budget amendment. Interestingly, the balanced budget amendment has -- which would be an amendment to the Constitution -- has within the balanced budget amendment, it has the provisions that the budget would balance in five years. And even when Republicans get around to saying, “Oh, we'll have some gimmicks to balance in ten,” ten is not what the amendment says. Why bother voting on an amendment if you're not serious about it? Republicans are completely in charge. It's a Republican document. It's a document I disagree with, and at the appropriate time, Mr. President, I will be introducing a replacement that will balance within five years and provides a conservative view for the country. Thank you.