Solving the Debt Problemby Senator Lamar Alexander
Posted on 2013-01-28
ALEXANDER. It seems lately that I come to the floor when the
Republican leader is making especially reasonable, sensible proposals.
I heard him say the same thing last week, and I agree with him.
I saw a number of my Democratic friends this weekend in different places, and I said: Look, the President has been elected. He deserves credit for that, and he now has a chance to define his legacy. He told us what that is in his inaugural address. Isn't this the right time to get out of the way this difficult problem of dealing with entitlements that every single one of us knows we have to do? Hasn't the House of Representatives actually given us an unexpected 3 or 4 months in which we can do it? If President Obama wants, as I am sure he must, to begin to work on the other issues he talked about in his inaugural address--immigration, for example, and his other important issues--why would we not go to work right now, as the Republican leader says, and deal with the runaway, out-of-control entitlement spending that is going to bankrupt the program the seniors depend upon to pay their medical bills? We know that is going to happen. The Medicare trustees have said it is going to happen in 12 years, and we have all made speeches saying what we should do with it. Let's just do it. As the Republican leader says, this isn't about austerity.
The Australian Foreign Minister came to this country about a month ago, and in his first address--he is a great friend of America's. He said the United States of America is one budget agreement away--one budget agreement away--from reasserting its global preeminence. That is his view from Down Under. Looking at Asia, looking at China, looking at Japan, he wants us to succeed. He thinks that if we succeed, Australia succeeds. He wants us to get this done.
Average families want us to get this done. They don't know why we don't get it done. They understand we can't keep spending money we don't have.
We have had recommendations from the President's debt commission, from the Domenici-Rivlin group, and from the Ryan-Wyden proposal. We have had all of these different ideas. We know exactly what to do, and suddenly we have 3 months to do it. I urge the President to make a proposal, show us what to do. There are 40 or 50--there might be 60 or 70 of us here on both sides of the aisle ready to go the work and to do it now.
I congratulate the Republican leader for his reasonableness and his comments, and I hope he continues to offer this. I might say, without trying to embarrass him, that every time we have had a crisis we need to solve, it has been the Republican leader and the White House that have gotten it done. So why don't they try again? Why don't they try again? That is my wish.
I came here to talk about something else today, but I am glad I was here to hear that, and I congratulate the Republican leader.