New York, New York – Today, at the New York Stock Exchange, Speaker Kevin McCarthy delivered the following remarks on the need for a responsible debt increase.
“I have full confidence that if we limit our federal spending, if we save taxpayers money,” said Speaker McCarthy. “If we grow the economy, we will end our dependence on China, we will curb inflation, and we will protect Medicare and Social Security so America will be stronger.”
Remarks as prepared, or you may watch online here.
“I am here today on the 100th Day since I got elected Speaker.
“And I chose to be here because in so many ways, this place represents the best of the American economy: fast-paced, future-focused, and dynamic.
“For more than two centuries, this market has enabled dreams and changed lives for entrepreneurs and investors.
“It has helped turn ideas into reality – generation after generation after generation.
“It pays pensions, funds education, builds hospitals, and supports charities.
“And it creates the incentives for solving challenges – and then helps to make those solutions widely available so we can live a better life.
“Its impact is felt by every person, in every community, in every corner of the country. And every other country wishes they had this too.
“Almost 40 years ago, President Reagan came here to talk about the economic revival that America was experiencing under his leadership.
“Before ringing the opening bell, he said these words:
“‘We’ve moved from malaise to hope, confidence, and opportunity. We knew that malaise for what it really was: Government – with its high taxes, excessive spending and overregulation – had thrown a wrench in the works of our free markets. In essence, government was trying to run the economy, but was ruining it instead.’
“Then, he closed his speech with this warning about out-of-control spending:
“‘It’s time that government got off its present spending spree before it squanders our future prosperity.’
“Reagan’s words echo throughout these halls as a warning to all of us today.
“We are seeing in real-time the effects of reckless government spending.
Record inflation, and the hardships it causes.
“Rising interest rates.
“Supply chain shortages.
“Instability in the banking system.
“And uncertainty across the board.
“Unlike President Biden, I don’t dismiss Americans’ fears about higher prices. I share them. And I share their conviction that we must change course before it’s too late.
“That’s why I’m here.
“Today, I speak to you not only as the Speaker of the House but also as a father, a former small business owner, a taxpayer, and a proud American.
“I want to talk to you about the debate that’s not happening in Washington — but should be happening — over our national debt. It’s a debate that directly affects the lives of every American.
“America deserves to hear the truth. So, I will start with the facts.
“Our national debt is too high. Far 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.
“That is unsustainable.
“Over the next ten years, the United States will pay $10.5 trillion in interest on the federal debt.
“To put that into perspective: since 1940 until today, we paid 9 trillion in total interest on the federal debt.
“That’s over the past 80 years.
“In our lifetimes, these interest payments are on track to crowd out and eventually eclipse vital programs – like Social Security and Medicare.
“Let me repeat – far from protecting these two vital programs, as the President says he will, President Biden’s extreme spending threatens to crush them with debt and economic decay.
“Without exaggeration, America’s debt is a ticking time bomb that will detonate unless we take serious, responsible action.
“Yet how has President Biden reacted to this issue?
“He’s done nothing. So in my view, he’s been irresponsible.
“Rather than face the facts, this President has embraced a fantasy that debt doesn’t matter. That money can always be created out of thin air. And that the solution to higher prices caused by reckless spending is higher taxes.
“In two short years, President Biden, along with Democrats in Congress, added 6 trillion dollars to our nation’s debt burden – which created inflation, made us more dependent on China, and undermined Medicare and Social Security.
“Today, it’s the American people who are left paying the price.
“Americans have received a pay cut for 24 consecutive months – the longest streak in American history – as inflation has persisted.
“In fact, since President Biden took office, families have lost the equivalent of seven thousand four hundred dollars worth of income.
“Nearly 6 in 10 Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to make ends meet.
“For young families, Biden’s inflation means home ownership is moving further and further out of reach.
“For our seniors, Biden’s inflation means a lifetime of retirement savings are being ravaged.
“And now we see the collapse of the largest bank since the Great Recession — a direct result of incompetent bank supervision and the negative effects of constantly fighting President Biden’s inflation.
“It is basic economics that when Washington prints more and more money, prices go up and purchasing power goes down. As my favorite economist Milton Friedman said more than 50 years ago, ‘inflation is made in Washington.’
“Yet rather than working with Republicans to find a reasonable agreement to tame inflation and provide certainty to the economy, President Biden is demanding that Congress make room for new debt without a single, sensible change to how government spends your hard-earned money. Not one.
“My question to you is, does that sound responsible?
“Let me put it this way: if you gave your child a credit card and they kept maxing out the limit, would you just blindly raise the limit? Of course not.
“You would be responsible and pay the bills — but you would also sit down with them to help figure out where they could change their spending behavior so it never happens again.
“The same thing is true for our national debt.
“Debt limit negotiations are an opportunity to examine our nation’s finances.
“In the past 35 years, there have been 8 major deficit reduction laws enacted by Congress. Every one of them was attached to legislation that raised the debt ceiling. And every one of them was bipartisan.
“Why? Because the problem gets solved only when both parties come to the table.
“When he was a Senator, Joe Biden voted for spending reforms attached to debt limit increases four times:
“And in 1997.
“On the occasions he opposed raising the debt limit, it was because he said the deficit reduction measures were not enough to justify debt limit increases.
“To quote then-Senator Biden, his opposition to raising the debt limit in 2004 was ‘a protest of the policies that have brought us to this point and a demand that we change course.’
“What changed, Mr. President?
“As Vice President, Biden led the talks on spending restraints in the 2011 debt limit negotiations.
“During those negotiations – which were called the ‘Biden Group’ – he passionately made the case for negotiating in good faith. To again quote his words, he said ‘you can’t govern’ without negotiating.
“What changed, Mr. President?
“I agree with the former, sensible Joe Biden; he knew that our government is designed to find compromise. I wish the current, extreme Joe Biden would listen to him too.
“I met with President Biden at the White House on February 1 – seventy-five days ago.
“During our meeting, I told the President clearly: let’s find a way to come to an agreement, like we have before.
“Had the President agreed to negotiate in good faith, we’d already be done.
“Unfortunately, I haven’t heard from the White House since our first meeting. President Biden has been missing in action and misleading the public.
“Mr. President, with all due respect, enough is enough. This is not how the leader of the free world should act. Your partisan political games are provoking the very crisis you claim you want to avoid: greater dependency on China, increasing inflation, and threatening Medicare and Social Security.
“Even members of your own party believe this approach is extreme.
“Democrat Senator Joe Manchin recently said, ‘Recent actions make clear to me that the Biden administration is determined to pursue an ideological agenda.’
“Senator Manchin is right.
“Make no mistake: The longer President Biden waits to be sensible, to find agreement, the more likely it becomes that his administration will bumble into the first default in our nation’s history.
“Addressing the debt requires us to come together, find common ground, and reduce spending.
“Defaulting on our debt is not an option.
“But neither is a future of higher taxes, higher interest rates, higher inflation, more dependence on China, and an economy that doesn’t work for working Americans.
“Let me be clear: a no-strings-attached debt limit increase cannot pass.
“But since the President continues to hide, House Republicans will take action.
“Here’s our plan:
“In the coming weeks, the House will vote on a bill to lift the debt ceiling into next year, save taxpayers trillions of dollars, make us less dependent on China, and curb high inflation — all without touching Social Security or Medicare.
“Simply put, it puts us on a responsible fiscal path in three ways: limit, save, and grow.
“First – we will limit federal spending.
“In the past two years, discretionary spending in Washington has exploded by over 17 percent. That’s faster than GDP growth and even inflation.
“And keep in mind, that new spending does not include the trillions of dollars of COVID-era spending.
“From 2011 through 2021, the Federal Government operated under binding spending caps.
“Though these caps occasionally changed because of bipartisan debt limit negotiations, they were largely successful: discretionary spending flatlined and overall spending growth slowed dramatically.
“Our legislation accomplishes the same goal by returning the federal government to 2022 spending levels—and then limiting the growth of spending over the next 10 years to 1 percent annual growth.
“Don’t believe anyone who says these are draconian limits. They’re the same spending levels we operated under just last October. And we make sure that our veterans and our service members are taken care of.
“But the bloated, overgrown bureaucracy that has expanded under President Biden needs to be pruned, and that’s exactly what we’ll do. If Washington wants to spend more, it will have to come together to find savings elsewhere – just like every household in America does.
“This will restore discipline to Washington budgeting and help put an end to reckless spending that caused inflation.
“Second – we will save taxpayers money.
“In his unserious budget proposal, President Biden wants to spend more this year than the government did during the height of the pandemic.
“Just think about that.
“House Republicans believe the opposite should happen: before we borrow another dime, we owe it to our children to save money everywhere.
“Our proposal will examine wasteful Washington spending and executive overreach in all its forms.
“Among other items, it will claw back tens of billions of dollars in unspent COVID-related money.
“House Republicans have already passed a bill to officially end the pandemic emergency, and President Biden signed it into law last week.
“Now, it’s time for Washington to return to normal.
“The American people are tired of politicians who use COVID as an excuse for more extreme, inflationary spending.
“If the money was authorized to fight the pandemic but was not spent during the pandemic, it should not be spent after the pandemic is over.
“Third – we will grow the economy so we stop being dependent on China.
“House Republicans have already passed H.R. 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act, with bipartisan support.
“Among other things, this bill restores American energy leadership, makes it easier to build things in America, makes us less dependent on China, and brings jobs back to America. That will grow our economy.
“Our proposal will also include restoring work requirements that ensure able-bodied adults without dependents earn a paycheck and learn new skills. That will grow our economy and help the supply chain.
“Right now, there are more job openings than people looking for jobs, in part because the Biden Administration weakened work requirements.
“Incentives matter. And the incentives today are out of whack.
“It’s time to get Americans back to work.
“Don’t believe anyone who says our plan hurts America’s social safety net. We’re a generous nation, and when people fall on tough times, we help them. That will not change.
“But this is important: assistance programs are supposed to be temporary, not permanent. A hand up, not a hand out. A bridge to independence, not a barrier.
“Just as Ronald Reagan understood the importance of economic growth, we should welcome and celebrate the benefits of a strong, growing economy.”
“For with a strong, growing economy, we will no longer be dependent upon China, we will no longer be victims to inflation, and we can protect and preserve Social Security and Medicare.
“My fellow Americans, as we confront the consequences of President Biden’s extreme, reckless spending, Congressional Republicans are ready to act – and to lead.
“That is the resolve of our House Republican majority, every single member of it.
“We are in New York – at the beginning of baseball season.
“We all know what one of the most famous Yankees, the Great Bambino, Babe Ruth said – ‘you just can’t beat the person who never gives up.’
“Well, if there’s one thing I hope America has learned about me in these first 100 days since I was elected Speaker, it’s this: I will never give up.
“I will never give up on you.
“And we will never give up on you.
“We will not rest until the economy is healthier.
“Until our country is more confident.
“Until our children’s future is brighter.
“We owe it to the American people to use this moment in history to deliver the future they want, need, and deserve.
“I have full confidence that if we limit our federal spending, if we save taxpayers money, if we grow the economy, we will end our dependence on China, we will curb inflation, and we will protect Medicare and Social Security so America will be stronger.
“If you agree, join us.
“Join us in demanding a reasonable negotiation and responsible debt ceiling agreement that brings spending under control.
“And if President Biden decides to stop the partisan games and stand with us, then our majority will join with him in common cause to address this urgent challenge.”