December 23, 1995
Web posted at: 8:45 p.m. EST
REP. RON LEWIS, R-KENTUCKY: Hello and merry Christmas. I'm Ron Lewis, congressman for the Second District of Kentucky. It's an honor to speak with you during this cherished holiday season.
Congress and the president have a chance to present America's children with a great Christmas gift -- a balanced budget.
But let me first speak of an even more pressing issue. Our men and women in uniform are beginning to arrive in Bosnia. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are this country's finest examples of bravery and service. They are living President Kennedy's challenge to "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
Regardless of our feelings about Mr. Clinton's decision to send troops to Bosnia, we can all keep these men and women in our thoughts and prayers. And we must remember the families whose worries about their loved ones won't go away over Christmas dinner. Their sacrifices should inspire us all.
As our troops head to Bosnia, House and Senate Republicans are still waiting for a real balanced budget from President Clinton. That's what we've been working on all year. But balancing the budget goes far beyond the simple goal of living within our means, something most Americans have to do every day.
With the national debt at $5 trillion and rising, it's a matter of giving our children a chance at the American dream. When I was growing up, most parents believed their kids would have a better standard of living. Today, they aren't sure that that's even possible. A child born today will pay nearly $200,000 in taxes on interest on the debt alone.
If nothing is done, entitlement spending and interest on the debt will take up the entire federal budget in less than two decades. There'll be no money for education or roads or defense any of the programs that help all of us. That's not only wrong, it's un-American. Children don't have a say in the matter, but they will be stuck with the debts run up by an out-of-touch federal government.
Just weeks ago, President Clinton vetoed the Balanced Budget Act of 1995, the first balanced budget that's crossed any president's desk in more than a generation. So the work goes on.
I know many of you are uncertain about ongoing negotiations between Congress and the White House. But House and Senate Republicans ask only one thing of the president -- to negotiate in good faith on a seven-year balanced budget using projections of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
In his first State of the Union address, President Clinton endorsed the CBO. He pointed out the CBO had been much more accurate than White House appointees. And he said we should use the same set of numbers so the American people will at least know what we're arguing about.
But now that we are at the brink of finally stopping the flood of red ink, President Clinton doesn't want to use the same set of numbers. His latest so-called balanced budget is $350 billion in the red. And House Republicans and Democrats unanimously rejected it earlier this week.
Mr. Clinton has called Republicans extremist and mean-spirited for trying to slow the rate of growth on Medicare, something he thought was a good idea just two years ago for his government health care plan. I think the American people are tired of politicians saying one thing and doing another. The fact is, the Republican plan to save Medicare would still increase spending by more than 60 percent over the next seven years, and Mr. Clinton knows this.
We believe this is an historic struggle, perhaps our last great chance to stop robbing our children. (85K AIFF sound or 85K WAV sound) We have put forth our suggestions for balancing the budget, reforming welfare, saving Medicare, and allowing families to keep more of the money that they earn. And we have done it using real numbers, not the smoke-and- mirrors that helped get us in this mess in the first place. If that's risking our political careers, so be it. It's better than risking our children's future.
In the end, it's a matter of accepting a challenge that past Congresses have refused to face -- caring more about the next generation than the next election. (102K AIFF sound or 102K WAV sound) House and Senate Republicans have accepted this challenge, and during the current stalemate, we will continue to negotiate with Mr. Clinton. We hope he begins to play by the same rules.
I wish all of you a very merry Christmas, a happy holiday season, and a wonderful New Year. And God bless you.
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