'Senate Is Fiddling While America Is Going Bankrupt,' Republican Says
Update: Senator Ron Johnson made the following statement Thursday morning after Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that the Senate will remain in session during the Fourth of July recess, as Johnson requested:
“I’m happy to hear that Senator Reid and President Obama agree with the point that Senator Sessions and I made earlier in the week – that it’s important for the Senate to stay in session over the Fourth of July recess to address our nation’s looming fiscal crisis. It’s also important that we don’t waste this time – that we stay and work to seriously address the root cause of this crisis – Washington’s excess of spending."
(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has been in the U.S. Senate for six months, and he says nothing is getting done. Therefore, he is leading a Republican call for the Senate to work through its scheduled Fourth of July recess.
“I’ve been here six months and trust me, the Senate is fiddling while America is going bankrupt," Johnson said. "The fact that anyone would even consider recessing at this point in time is absurd. If we let that happen, we’d be guilty of willful neglect. It’s time to get serious about the most urgent problem facing our nation today. It’s time to start working on the problem.”
Johnson told a news conference on Wednesday that he ran for the Senate because he's worried the nation will go bankrupt: "We need to start addressing this urgent problem. We need to start talking about what the solutions are. We need a budget. We need the United States Senate to propose one, and pass a budget. And of course that means leadership from the Democrats," Johnson said.
The details will be difficult but coming up with the numbers should not be too hard, Johnson continued. He mentioned $2.6 trillion dollars -- the amount of revenue President Obama estimates the federal government will collect next year.
"If we only spent that amount, we would be living within our means," Johnson said. "And what I proposed, is in an open process -- if people want to spend more than that, they should come before Congressional committees, they should come before the floor of the Senate. And they should explain and they should argue and they should debate on how much they want to spend above the $2.6 trillion. How much they want to borrow. And how much more debt they are willing to put on the backs of our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren. We should be doing that every day," Johnson said.
Other Republicans endorsing Johnson's call to remain in Washington include Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Rand Paul (Ky.). The latter praised Sen. Johnson for calling attention to the "inaction of our Senate Democrat leadership and President Obama." Paul noted that it has been nearly 800 days since the U.S. Senate passed a budget. And now, six months into the current session, there has been no progress on balancing the U.S. budget and addressing the ballooning U.S. debt.
Rubio is among the Republicans pushing for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution to "handcuff out-of-control politicians."
Rubio said the unsustainable debt and rising deficits are causing uncertainty that is killing jobs and threatening to leave future generations stuck with the bill. “A balanced budget amendment would end this harmful practice and finally bring accountability to the budget-making process," Rubio said. He also said tax hikes are not a cure for Washington's "spending addiction."
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, said, "We shouldn't be doing anything on the Senate floor except talking about how to address the spending problem, how to reduce our debt, and how to make sure we don't continue to perpetuate this cycle of having to continuously increase the debt ceiling rather than dealing with the fiscal crisis we have before us right now."
Other senators endorsing Johnson's call for the Senate to remain in session over July 4 include John Cornyn (R-TX), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and David Vitter (R-LA).
Earlier on Wednesday, President Barack Obama -- busy lately with fund-raisers -- said lawmakers shouldn't leave town at the end of the week unless they make significant progress toward a debt deal: "If, by the end of this week, we have not seen substantial progress, then I think members of Congress need to understand we are going to, you know, start having to cancel things and stay here until we get it done," Obama said.
Obama made it clear at the news conference that he will not accept any compromise on a deficit-reduction deal that excludes tax hikes. Republicans made it equally clear that tax hikes are off the table:
“The president is sorely mistaken if he believes a bill to raise the debt ceiling and raise taxes would pass the House," Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said. "The votes simply aren’t there – and they aren’t going to be there, because the American people know tax hikes destroy jobs. They also know Washington has been on a spending binge for many years, and they will only tolerate a debt limit increase if we stop it."