Carper Decries Increase in Nation’s Debt Limit

Urges “Discipline, Responsibility, Sacrifice”

WASHINGTON (Nov. 17, 2004) – Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., today decried the need for legislation to dramatically increase the nation’s indebtedness to more than $8 trillion, saying Congress needs to tighten its belt and start living within its means again. “There is symbolism in the fact that one of the last acts of the 109th Congress will be to place the country deeper in hoc to its creditors,” said Carper of the legislation to increase the nation’s debt limit by $800 billion, to some $8.2 trillion, the largest in history. The bill passed the Senate today by a 52-44 vote. Carper criticized the Republican leadership in Congress and President Bush for continuing to ignore our nation’s fiscal crisis, which now includes years of projected deficits. In a speech on the Senate floor, Carper reminded his colleagues that when President Clinton left office, America had a budget surplus — enough to secure the future solvency of Social Security and Medicare and to put the country on course to be completely debt-free. But after enactment of the president’s tax cuts, massive spending increases to pay for the war in Iraq, and an economic slowdown at home, the country’s fiscal situation has completely reversed. Carper said Congress needs to show more “discipline, responsibility and sacrifice” in order to put America on the right track again. Carper called on Congress to reinstate rules that would force new spending or tax cuts to be paid for by corresponding cuts in other areas of the federal budget. “Our state and local governments know what it means to live by two simple rules: live within your means and pay as you go. We used to live by these rules in Congress, but we let them expire. As a result, we have unleashed a frenzy of spending and borrowing.” Carper said he stood willing to work with Republicans and Democrats who wanted to do something about the nation’s fiscal crisis. “If we work together, we can save ourselves from standing once again on the precipice of adding another billion, another hundred billion or another trillion to the debt we are loading on the backs of our children and future generations of Americans,” said Carper.