WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Senator Rand Paul spoke on the Senate floor regarding the problem facing America regarding the current debt crisis: our government’s spending problem. Transcript and video of today’s floor appearance are below.



On Aug. 2, the United States will face a debt ceiling. I’m one who thinks we should be debating it every day, every week until we find a solution. But in order to find a solution, we have to first admit we have a problem. We have a significant problem.

Raising the debt ceiling is something sort of like not paying your credit card bill and then saying to the credit card company, I want to just increase my limit. We have been doing that year after year, decade after decade. Both parties have done it. This isn’t just one party’s problem. It’s both parties’ problem; it’s the country’s problem.

How big is the problem? We are spending $10 billion a day. Of that $10 billion, we are borrowing $4 billion a day. Spending $100,000 a second and we’re borrowing $45,000 a second.

Senator DeMint the other day said it was like a drug addiction. You know, to get better from a drug addiction, the first thing you have to admit is ‘I’m addicted.’

You have to admit you have a problem. That’s what’s going on here. We have to admit as a country we have a problem. Then we get into this debate, each side seems to have a different position. Is the problem that we’re spending too much or is the problem that we’re taxing too little?

You can look at the numbers and you can actually come up with an objective answer. The answer is that we’re spending too much. And you can look at it in terms of what is spending as a percentage of our gross domestic product? What is spending as a percentage of our economy?

Well, spending under Clinton and under bush for about 16 years was about 19 percent and 20 percent of our GDP. What is it now? It’s about 25 percent of our GDP. So under any objective standard we’re spending more than we were previously.

Now, some would argue, they say the bush tax cuts caused this. If we could just get rid of the Bush tax cuts. We’re just not taxing people enough. If you look at the numbers, the numbers don’t bear out. The numbers are that basically in 1987 revenue was about 18 percent of GDP.

In 1995, revenue was about 18 percent of GDP. In 2003, Bush passed the tax cuts, congress passed these tax cuts. In 2006, revenue was still at about 18 percent of GDP. Now right now revenue is under 15 percent, so revenue has gone down in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

What happened in 2008? A severe recession, the worst recession since the Great Depression. When we have less people working, we have less people paying taxes. It has absolutely nothing to do with the Bush tax cuts.

They happened in 2003, revenue stayed steady at 18 percent which it has historically for 60 years until 2007, 2008, the recession hits, revenue goes down. So we have a lack of revenue, but if you raise rates, you won’t get more revenue.

If you want more revenue, to try to balance our books, you need an economy that employs more people. You need a growing economy. It’s all about getting out of the recession. But that’s why some of us fear raising rates now because we think that will harm us and make it more difficult to come out of a recession.

Well, many on the other side say well, the rich need to pay more. They think the rich are not paying enough. They think if the rich would pay more, we could get out of this.

We have to once again look at the facts. There is a resolution on the floor now that the Democrats are promoting, and it says that the rich — the people who make more than $1 million a year that they earn or bring in 20 percent of the nation’s economy.

That’s true, but they pay 38 percent of the income tax. So the question is, are the rich paying enough? They bring in 20 percent of the income and they are paying 38 percent of the revenue. I don’t know.

The other question is if you just stick it to the rich and say let’s make the rich pay more, what will that do to the rest of us? Do you think we’ll have more jobs or less jobs if we tax people more? The question is also will you get more revenue or less revenue if you do this?

Historically, no matter what the rates have been, we bring in about 18 percent of GDP. For example, back in the 1950’s, we had tax rates as high as 70 percent on the wealthy. When we did, we brought in 18 percent of the GDP. When Reagan came in, he lowered tax rates to 28 percent for the upper limit. We still brought in 18 percent of GDP.

The difference was when we brought in lower rates, we brought in a booming economy, more jobs and we expanded the number of people paying taxes. You expand the tax base. Now, we get back to the impasse, there is an impasse up here. The other side says the rich must share more of the burden. There is a way to do it without raising taxes.

There is ultimately a compromise that I think brings both sides together, gets beyond the debt ceiling, and if they would talk about it, if we would have a debate down here or an informal discussion, we could fix this tomorrow.

If you want the rich to share more of the burden, ask them to pay for their Medicare. I see no reason why the wealthy shouldn’t pay the full cost of Medicare. Ask the rich to take less in Social Security benefits.

If you means test Social Security benefits, if you say if you’re a wealthy person, guess what? We don’t have enough money to give you what we said we were going to give you, and you would have to take less, I’m perfectly willing to accept that.

So there are ways that you can do it without damaging the economy. I think raising taxes damages the economy and damages jobs for the working class. We tried this before, about ten years ago we said let’s get those rich people. They put a special tax on yachts.

Guess who it hurt? The guy making $40,000 a year building the yachts lost his job. The rich went to the Caribbean and bought their yacht somewhere else. It doesn’t work, it’s not good for the economy, it hurts the working class to raise taxes.

But if you want to say the rich need to absorb more of the burden, simply have the rich pay more for their benefits or get less benefits. I’m willing to accept that, many Republicans are. It is the compromise.

Republicans aren’t willing to raise taxes, Democrats want to raise taxes. Where do we compromise? Come together and say that the rich can absorb more of the burden by paying more for their benefits or getting less benefits.

This is a compromise that would work. We could actually get together and raise the debt ceiling. I have said I will vote to raise the debt ceiling if and only if we decide to do something different in this Congress.

Congress really has done a poor job. You wonder why congress has a 14 percent approval rating. It’s because they have been a poor steward with your money. A poor steward. The Congress has not done a good job watching over your money. They have been profligate spenders.

So I think in order for the American people to believe that we’re going to do a better job, we need a new rule, we need a Balanced Budget Amendment.

So I will propose along with other enters to raise the debt ceiling contingent upon a Balanced Budget Amendment that we balance our budget by law.

Now, some have said well, let’s just promise to cut spending over the next 10 years. Let’s raise the debt ceiling $2 trillion, we’ll promise cut spending $2 trillion. The problem is we’re not very believable because we haven’t kept our word in the past and we can’t bind the next Congress.

The next Congress will be elected by a new set of people. They will come up here and they don’t have to go by what we’re promising. If we amend the Constitution, though, the next Congress will be bound by this and the next Congress would have to live within its means.

I think this is very important. It is becoming a consensus in our country that says the debt is a real problem. I think the two sides could come together, Republican and Democrat, and say this is how we would work it out.

But I think it means significant cuts in federal spending. I think it means statutory caps, meaning that government should have to live within its means each year, and then I think we need to amend the Constitution.

But if the Democrats say they have to have that the rich pay more somehow, let’s have the rich pay more for their benefits. That’s ultimately the compromise. I think you can get the vast majority of Republicans to agree to that, Democrats could agree to that, we could fix the problem and the American people would be amazed that we got together, we fixed the problem and we moved on. That’s what needs to happen. It’s not happening in this body.

This body needs to debate the debt ceiling. We need to come up with a solution. We need to move on. We have not had one committee hearing about the debt ceiling. We haven’t passed a budget in two years. We haven’t passed an Appropriation bill in two years. We aren’t doing what we’re supposed to be doing up here.

The American people say they want results. They want us to at least have a debate up here. We don’t have to agree on everything, but let’s debate, admit what the problem is and move forward. But instead, we get obfuscation and we get let’s talk about something that’s not really pertinent to what our problems are.

We have to, like the drug addict, admit we have a problem. Our problem is spending. It’s not a taxation problem. It’s not a revenue problem. We have less revenue because we’re in a recession. We have a spending problem and the numbers are clear as day, and I would say to this body and to the American people let’s balance our budget.

Raise the debt ceiling, but let’s go ahead and have a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, and I hope we will recognize those problems and move forward.

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