|2:45 PM EST||
Robert Andrews, D-NJ 1st
Mr. ANDREWS. I thank my friend for yielding.
A tired old tradition is being carried out on the House floor today. When it comes time to extend the national debt ceiling, the Members in the minority get up and express outrage, and enough Members in the majority get up and show responsibility and vote to do what needs to be done to pay the Nation's bills.
Madam Speaker, I know a lot of people watching this are scratching their heads and saying, how did we get to such a terrible predicament? Whose fault is it? And I think they're tired of hearing whose fault it is because, frankly, when the other side is in the majority, we say it's their fault; when they're in the minority, they say it's our fault.
I think a history lesson is in order. In 2001, as Mr. Tanner said, we were looking at a projected $5 trillion surplus over the decade that we're now closing out. We're going to take in $5 trillion more than we spent. There were three things that happened in that decade that injured that prospect. The first was horrific, unavoidable, and the fault of no one in this room; it was the terrorist attack on the country on September 11, 2001, which had and still has negative economic consequences
as well as security consequences for the country.
The second thing that happened, in my view, is that two disastrous choices were made. The first was to launch two wars by borrowing the money to pay for those wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan. We certainly can disagree--and we have around here a lot--as to whether or not those wars were or were not in the national interest, but I think we should have understood that it was absolutely not in the national interest to defy historic tradition and finance those wars by borrowing money, unlike more
responsible predecessors of ours had done in other times.
The second disastrous decision was a tax cut, a huge majority of which benefited the wealthiest 5 or 10 percent of people in this country. That created a mountain of debt that shifted us from a projected $5 trillion surplus to a projected deficit instead.
Then followed the financial meltdown of the fall of 2008. The Treasury Secretary told us in no uncertain terms that he felt that we were perhaps a few days away from the collapse of the global economy. So to this floor came a $700 billion bailout bill for the banking industry, and a lot of Members on both sides voted for it. I think it was the right vote because I do think it staved off that calamity from happening, and that added to the national debt. And yes, there were decisions made since
the new administration came in to do the stimulus bill in a way that was not paid for.