Washington, D.C. – Today, Speaker Kevin McCarthy delivered the following address on the need for a sensible approach to the debt ceiling.
Remarks as prepared, or you may watch online here.
“Good evening. I’m Kevin McCarthy. I have the honor of serving as the Speaker of the House. Tonight, however, I stand before you not only as the Speaker.
“I speak to you as a father, a former small business owner, and a taxpayer. And like many of you, I worry about a future that feels less secure than it should.
“A lot has changed in recent years.
“Our southern border was once secure. Now, the number of illegal immigrants who crossed our border in just two years easily exceeds the population of 25 states.
“Americans are getting hammered by higher prices. Today, nearly two-thirds of all Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, struggling to make ends meet.
“Meanwhile, China is infiltrating our culture, our farmland, and our skies because they see us as weak.
“This is not sustainable.
“But of all the dangers we face, the greatest threat to our future is our national debt.
“You deserve the truth. So, let’s start with the facts.
“Our national debt is high. Too high. And the problem is getting worse, not better.
“We are now 31 trillion dollars in debt. That is more than the size of the entire American economy. 20 percent more.
“Our debt is now a greater burden than it has been at any time since World War 2.
“If we continue down this path, in the next ten years, we will spend over 8 trillion dollars just on interest.
“That’s more than the entire federal budget this year. By a lot.
“That is neither affordable nor sustainable.
“When debt is too high, inflation is the result.
“That’s where we are today.
“Inflation has exploded. Mortgage rates have doubled.
“Working Americans – after inflation and taxes – have gotten a pay cut.
“And eggs – a staple of America’s breakfast – have gone from a cheap source of protein to a luxury good.
“Like many Americans, you may be wondering, how did we get here?
“Yes, our nation has taken on debt for most of its history. But the last few years have been different.
“Washington fell for a financial fad – a fiscal fraud – that the national debt doesn’t matter, that money can always be created out of thin air to pay for it and that the solution to higher prices is higher taxes.
“For years, we’ve watched as Democrats in Congress spent your hard-earned tax dollars like those dollars were imaginary.
“Thanks to four years of runaway spending by the Democrats, they increased annual discretionary spending by 400 billion dollars – a 30 percent increase in just four years.
“They took our nation’s credit card, spent like crazy, and left us in deep debt.
“But not once did they seek or accept any responsibility.
“Instead, they doubled down.
“In 2021, Democrats passed the largest debt limit increase in American history. Then, they maxed out our nation’s credit card again just 13 months later.
“Now, President Biden wants Congress to raise the debt limit yet again without a single, sensible change to how government spends your hard-earned money. None.
“Does that sound responsible to you?
“If you’ve had teenagers, and they spend past the limit on a credit card, yes, you pay for it.
“But this is important. You don’t allow their bad spending habits to continue. You change their behavior so it never happens again. You teach them to be sensible, responsible, and accountable adults.
“Well, I think I speak for most Americans when I say, it’s time for Washington to change its behavior and act like adults.
“90 days ago, the American people chose to give Republicans power in the House of Representatives because we are committed to finding solutions that curb inflation at its source – wasteful Washington spending.
“We’re already changing the behavior of this government. The runaway spending of the last few years is over.
“Now, we must return Washington to a basic truth: debt matters.
“The debt limit is one of the most important opportunities Congress has to change course. How we respond will determine what happens to our children and to their children in the coming years and decades.
“The choice is clear.
“We can have reckless spending or we can have responsibility. But we can’t have both.
“We can leave our children a future with higher inflation, higher interest rates, and crushing debt or we can leave them free to pursue happiness as God intended.
“What Americans want – and what Republicans are fighting for – is a responsible debt limit increase that puts us on a path towards a healthier economy.
“We will curb wasteful Washington spending to reduce inflation and return our government to fiscal sanity.
“We will preserve our ability to defend this nation against threats from abroad.
“Cuts to Medicare and Social Security are off the table.
“Defaulting on our debt is not an option.
“But neither is a future of higher taxes, higher interest rates, and an economy that doesn’t work for working Americans.
“Debt limit debates have been used for nearly every successful attempt to reform federal spending in living history.
“Why? Because the problem only gets solved when both parties come to the table.
“But don’t just take my word for it.
“Here’s what then-Vice President Biden said when he negotiated a debt limit increase with House Republicans in 2011, ‘You can’t govern’ without negotiating.
“Those are his words. That was his sensible standard. And House Republicans are following it now.
“Mr. President, it’s time to get to work.
“Surely we both agree that the national debt is too high.
“Surely we both agree that inflation hurts American families.
“Surely we can trim waste and streamline programs to make them both stronger and more efficient.
“So, let’s do this.
“As a Senator, you voted against raising the debt ceiling, Mr. President.
“To quote your words, your vote in 2004 was ‘a protest of the policies that have brought us to this point and a demand that we change course.’
“We need a different approach.
“No drawing lines in the sand or saying it’s my way or the highway.
“No policy gimmicks or political games.
“But most of all, no more blank checks for runaway spending.
“Just sensible, responsible solutions to our growing national debt.
“Here are mine.
“First, we will continue to sit down and negotiate – just as President Biden did in the past.
“Second, we must commit to finding common ground on a responsible debt limit increase. Finding compromise is exactly how governing in America is supposed to work – and exactly what the American people voted for just three months ago.
“Third, we must move towards a balanced budget and insist on genuine accountability for every dollar we spend. Future generations deserve nothing less.
“A responsible debt limit increase that begins to eliminate wasteful Washington spending and puts us on a path towards a balanced budget is not only the right place to start. It’s the only place to start.
“My fellow Americans, I cannot stand still in the face of a growing national debt and diminishing economic opportunity.
“My colleagues and I in Congress were elected at this moment in time to restore your voice in Washington and to deliver the brighter future you want, need, and deserve – not only for you but for your children and for their children.
“We will not let you down.
“Mr. President, Congressional Republicans are ready to act – to save our country and to make America stronger. I hope you will join us.”