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Thune: Reckless, Out-of-Control Government Spending Must End

We have to find a way to rein in federal spending. Otherwise the size of our national debt is going to crush our economy – and seriously limit the federal government’s ability to meet even its most basic responsibilities, like funding Social Security and national defense.

May 16, 2023

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today spoke on the Senate floor about the need to reform federal spending and the risk of the growing national debt. Thune noted that the interest on the debt will exceed spending on key programs like national defense, Medicare, and Social Security in the next few decades. He also outlined how the debt ceiling has historically provided an opportunity to agree to spending reforms and urged President Biden to get serious about negotiating with Speaker McCarthy and House Republicans.    


Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):


“Mr. President, talks on the debt ceiling continue, and the Republican and Democrat leaders of the House and Senate are meeting with President Biden again today.


“I hope that is a positive sign.


“Because if the president’s treasury secretary is correct, we could be two weeks away from the United States beginning to default on its debts – something that would have very serious consequences for our economy and for our nation’s financial standing.


“And if we’re going to get a debt limit increase, the president is going to have to negotiate with Speaker McCarthy and House Republicans.


“Really negotiate, Mr. President.


“Which means that President Biden is going to have to accept some real spending reforms.


“Because otherwise a debt limit increase is not going to make it through the House of Representatives.


“Those are just the facts, Mr. President.


“Democrats, of course, have been kicking and screaming at the idea of spending reforms – witness their frantic campaign to portray the responsible reforms in House Republicans’ bill as extreme.


“Apparently suggesting that we should return to 2022 discretionary spending levels for 2024 is an extreme position – despite the fact that we were clearly doing just fine at those levels mere months ago.


“The Senate Democrat leader came down to the floor last Thursday and suggested that Republicans were attempting to pair a debt ceiling increase with, quote, ‘unrelated partisan priorities.’


“‘Unrelated partisan priorities.’


“Let that just sink in for a minute, Mr. President.


“According to the Senate Democrat leader, spending reform is a partisan priority that has nothing to do with increasing our nation’s credit card limit. 


“Mr. President, if a discussion over increasing our nation’s credit card limit isn’t a good time to have a discussion about spending, I don’t know what is. 


“And if spending reform is just a Republican priority, then there’s something seriously wrong with the Democrat Party.


“Because with a national debt like ours, spending reform should be a priority for everyone.


“Our national debt currently stands at more than $31 trillion.


“$31 trillion.


“Our debt has already exceeded the size of our economy, and within a few short years, we are going to be spending more just meeting the interest on our nation’s debt than we will on national defense.


“How do Democrats not realize that a national debt of that size has serious consequences? 


“By 2044, we will be spending more on interest than on Medicare.


“And by 2050, we will be spending more on interest than on Social Security.


“That is barely going to leave enough money for the government to meet its most basic obligations, much less invest in all the new or expanded government programs Democrats would like to implement.


“And yet Democrats are apparently content to simply ignore this reality.


“It’s like they think that we’re going to find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow to rescue us once we’ve spent the federal government into the ground.


“But there’s no magic pot of gold, Mr. President.


“And before Democrats suggest it, let me just say that taxing the rich will not provide enough money to dig us out of the hole we’re in.


“We have to find a way to rein in federal spending.


“Otherwise the size of our national debt is going to crush our economy – and seriously limit the federal government’s ability to meet even its most basic responsibilities, like funding Social Security and national defense.


“Mr. President, Democrats would like Americans to believe that the ‘clean’ debt ceiling bill they’re calling for is the standard when it comes to raising our nation’s credit card limit.


“But in fact that is very far from being the case – as the Democrat leader should know from his own experience in using the debt ceiling as leverage in negotiations. 


“As Democrats should be well aware, seven of the last 10 debt limit increases have included some mix of policy or budgetary changes rather than simply a clean increase.


“And historically spending reform has frequently gone hand-in-hand with debt ceiling legislation.


“Indeed, one expert recently noted in testimony before the Senate Budget Committee, and I quote, ‘of the eight largest deficit-reduction laws since 1985, all eight were attached to debt-limit bills.’


“Mr. President, I’m getting a little tired of hearing Democrats dance around the facts – or suggest that if Republicans just agree to the “clean” debt ceiling increase Democrats want, Democrats will be ready to talk about spending once we move on to the budget.


“Does anyone really believe that if Democrats won’t consider spending reforms now, they’ll develop a serious enthusiasm for reining in spending once we get to the budget?


“Somehow it doesn’t seem likely.


“Mr. President, Democrats and the president have spent a lot of energy over the past couple of weeks tearing down Republican proposals.


“If they’d spent half that time coming up with spending reforms of their own, we might already have a debt ceiling agreement.


“And I hope that the meeting at the White House later today is a sign that the president is actually getting serious about negotiating.


“Because if he isn’t, he will have only himself to blame if our nation defaults on its obligations.


“Democrats have already spent us into an inflation crisis.


“Let’s hope they don’t push us into a default crisis as well.


“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”