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Senator Rubio Delivers Senate Floor Speech On The Debt

Aug 2, 2011 | Comunicados de Prensa

Sen. Rubio: Thank you to my colleague from Alabama, who does a phenomenal job always of outlining the economic realities of it. And I enjoyed — could have sat here and listened to him speak even longer.  But I understand, according to some, I might be the last speaker today or one of the last, so I don’t want to keep the Senate open any longer than it should be. We’ve done a lot of work here over the last few days.

I went back around forth today over whether I wanted to speak or not. After all, I think almost everything that can be said has been said regarding the events of the last few days. But I did ultimately want to share my thoughts for a moment, as we head into the August recess, as they call it here in Washington, and many of us here in the Senate will be returning to our home states to explain to the people that we represent what we did or did not do in the last few days.

First, let me start by pointing out to that our republic is an amazing thing.

As heated as the rhetoric may have been over the last few days, I think all of us should stop for just a moment and understand that all around the world there are countries that solve the problems we’ve solved through debate, they solve it through civil war and conflict, armed and otherwise.

Our republic is an amazing thing. It isn’t always pretty. Quite frankly, it’s more often than not, very messy. But it has withstood two hundred and thirty-some-odd years of pressures and choices, and it continues to do so even if ultimately what it gives us is not always solutions to our problems. We are blessed to have it.

I would remind many like myself that were elected in the last election cycle, tightly embracing the principles of our Constitution, that our Constitution is not just a set of words that outline our principles. It gives us a system of government. It gives us this republic. And this republic is valid and it matters, even when the people who are running it may not be people you agree with. And we should always remember that.

What we have here is special and unique. We should embrace it and be thankful to our God each night that we have the opportunity and the blessing of living in a nation such as this.

Moving aside from that, however, the facts still remain that this coming month and every month to come, more or less, this government will spend $300 billion a month. That’s a lot of money. It’s more than any government has ever spent in the history of man.

$180 billion of that $300 billion is money that we collect from the people of our country through taxes and fees and other ways. But we borrow $120 billion a month to pay our $300 billion-a-month bill.

And that’s just too much money. That’s too much money for Republicans; it’s too much money for Democrats. It’s just too much money.

And although we should be happy that tomorrow and in the days to come we’re not facing a default, and an inability to meet our bills, the truth is, an undeniable one that I don’t think anyone here would disagree with me when I say: we can’t keep borrowing $120 billion every month or more because the point and the day will come when the people who lend us that money will stop lending us that money.

If we keep doing this for long, we will one day reach a day in this country where we will face a debt crisis, but it won’t be because of the debt limit or because of gridlock in Washington; it will be because folks are no longer willing to buy America’s debt, because they seriously doubt our ability to pay it back.

It’s not hyperbole. It is not an exaggeration. It is a mathematical, indisputable fact that no member of either party would dispute. There is general agreement on this, and there’s general agreement that the only way to solve this problem is a combination of two things.

Number one, this government needs to generate more revenue. And, number two, this government needs to restrict its growth in spending.

Because as bad as the three hundred billion-a-month looks, it only gets worse from here on out for ways that I don’t have time to explain in the next 10 minutes. Suffice it to say that our economy isn’t growing. It’s not producing enough revenue moving forward. Meanwhile, all the programs we fund are about to explode in their growth because more people than ever are going to retire and they’re going to live longer than they’ve ever lived and the math just doesn’t add up.

These are facts – no one would dispute that. The debate in Washington is not even about that fact. The debate is how do we solve it, how do we generate more money for government and reduce the spending, at the same time? And I will tell you this is not a debate we will solve in the month of August. In fact, I believe it will characterize the rest of this Congress, the 2012 elections and the years that lie ahead.

And the division on how to solve it goes to the root of the dispute that we face in America between two very different visions of America’s future. By the way, one not more or less patriotic than the other. Patriotic, country-loving Americans can disagree on their future vision of what kind of country we should be. But this division, this difference of opinion, is the reason why even though this bill passed, this debate we just had is going to move forward for some time to come.

On the one hand, there are those who believe that the job of government is deliver us economic justice, which basically means: an economy where everyone does well or as well as possibly can be done.

There is another group that believes in the concept of economic opportunity where it’s not the government’s job to guarantee an outcome but to guarantee the opportunity to fulfill your dreams and hopes.

One is not more moral than the other. They are two very different visions of the role of government in America. But it lies at the heart of the debate that we’re having as a nation.

And so we have to decide because Washington is divided, because America is divided on this point. And we must decide what every generation of Americans before us has decided. And that is what kind of government do we want to have and what role do we want it to have in America’s future?

And so the fault lines emerge from that.  The solutions emerge from those two visions.

For those that want to see economic justice, their solution is to raise more taxes.  They believe that there are some in America that make too much money and should pay more in their taxes. They believe that our government programs can stimulate economic growth. And they believe that perhaps America no longer needs to fund or can no longer afford to fund our national defense and our military at certain levels.

Another group believes that, in fact, our revenues should come not from more taxes but from more taxpayers. That what we need are more people being employed, more businesses being created.  They’ll pursue tax reform, they’ll pursue regulatory reform, but ultimately we look for more revenue for government from economic growth, not from growth in taxes.

We believe that the private sector creates these jobs, not government and not politicians. Jobs in America are created when everyday people from all walks of life start a business or expand an existing business.

I believe and we believe in a safety net program, programs that exist to help those who cannot help themselves and to help those who have tried but failed to stand up and try again, but not safety net programs that function as a way of life and believe that America’s national defense and our role in the world as the strongest military that man has ever known, is still indispensable.

These are two very different visions of America and two very different types of solutions.

Ultimately, we may find that between these two points there may not be a middle ground.  And that, in fact, as a nation and as a people, we must decide what we want the role of government to be in America, moving forward.

So let me close by just saying this has been a unique week for me in a couple ways.

One has been, of course, the debate that has happened. The other, my family has been here for the better part of a week, young children. We had an opportunity, today after the vote, to walk around a little bit and look at all the statues and monuments that pay tribute to our heritage as a people. It reminds us that we are not the first Americans that have been asked to choose what kind of country we want or what role of government we want in our country. It is a choice that every generation before us has had to make.

Even in this chamber as I stand here you can sit back and absorb the history of some of the extraordinary debates that took place on this very floor, debates that went to the core and heart of what kind of country we wanted to be moving forward. And the voice of those ancients call to us even now, that remind us every generation of Americans has been called to choose clearly what kind of country they want moving forward.

And that debate will continue. It will define the service of this Congress and for most of us that are here now.

I pray we choose wisely. And I look forward to the months that lie ahead that we will choose and make the right choice for our future and for our people.

 With that, I yield the floor.