|2:37 PM EST||
John Tanner, D-TN 8th
Mr. TANNER. Thank you, Mr. Neal.
Madam Speaker, what we are seeing today is the culmination of a decade-long mismanagement of our Nation's finances. In the year 2000, the revenue and expenditure stream coming to Washington were both around 19 percent of gross domestic product. In other words, we were breaking even. The second worse thing that happened in 2001 after, of course, 9/11 happened, in February when the Congressional Budget Office said that their forecast would be a $5 trillion surplus over the next 10 years. People
around here became euphoric. We are filthy rich. We can cut taxes. We can do everything, and we are going to be fine. In fact, the first Bush Secretary of the Treasury came before the Ways and Means Committee and said he was concerned that we would pay off the national debt so quickly that we would have to pay a premium to get our paper back.
Well, in June of 2001, we embarked on a new economic game plan for this country. Two and a half months later, 9/11, every assumption that went into the conclusion there would be a $5 trillion surplus over the next 10 years was no longer valid. But what did Congress do? Kept right on going. By 2003, if you look at the Treasury records, by 2003, income coming into Washington was down to 16.3 percent of gross domestic product, and expenditures were over 20 percent because we had gone to war in Afghanistan
and Iraq, among other reasons.
What did we do? We borrowed the gap. We started borrowing in 2002, -3, [Page: H15424]
-4, -5, a decade-long mismanagement by both parties. And for the people who just last week stripped out to pay for and added another $70 billion on a motion to recommit and to talk about debt and deficits now, when they ought to be trying to help us, what we're doing, as Allen Boyd said earlier, we're putting the pause button on this.
We must have statutory PAYGO that was allowed to lapse in 2002 so that you didn't have to pay for anything. You could just blithely pass tax cuts, increase spending and borrow the difference, because do you know something? The people we're borrowing it from aren't here. They don't have a vote.
I remember one time he said, will you vote for a supermajority to raise taxes? I said, no. There's plenty of pressure in the system not to raise taxes. I will vote not to borrow money because there's nobody here protesting what we're doing to the children of this country and the children yet to be born here.
And so, Madam Speaker, it's the responsible thing to do today. But I tell you, this is very short term, like 60 days. When we come back, we've got to insist on a commission or on a statutory PAYGO, on something to break this business-as-usual gridlock that has been going on here this entire decade.
And I defy anybody to argue honestly that it is not a decade-old problem. The last time we broke even, basically, was the fiscal year 2001. And so we have to do this; but when we get back here, when the final chapter is written of this book, I hope we have the ability to come together, and we need the help, we need the help of the Republicans to help us put in statutory PAYGO and the commission, some of these things that will do it.
The problem is not what we're doing. We have a structural deficit. Income right now is about 17 1/2 percent of gross domestic product. Expenditures are over 20.