Alexander Tells Memphis Rotary Club that Deficit is Too High to Qualify U.S. as Member of European Union

Says Washington Needs to Get Spending Under Control

Posted on April 7, 2009

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) made the following remarks here today during a lunch of the Memphis Rotary Club: • “I’d suggest that anyone who wants to be the next governor of Tennessee read Governor Bredesen’s budget address, in which he took into account two things. One was the economic turmoil we are in, and the other was the big economic stimulus package that delivers between 4 and 5 billion dollars to the state of Tennessee in the next two years . . . And what the governor is saying to cities and counties across the state is not to expect the state government to bail them out if they spend this extra stimulus money on anything other than one-time expenditures.” • “What really jumped out at me from the governor’s address was our first debt--the state debt. Right now, Tennessee’s debt is about $1,000 per person – the lowest state debt per capita in the United States. But for the federal debt, each person’s share is about $46,000, and based on the budget that was just passed in the Senate, that will rise to about $60,000 in five years and $76,000 in 10 years. We’re going to have to start paying very serious attention to the level of debt in Washington because the country can’t sustain it. In fact, we sometimes make fun of France and other European countries, but our annual deficit is going to settle into a percentage of our gross domestic product that is so high that we wouldn’t even be eligible for membership in the European Union.” • “I think we need a commission for the federal debt that comes up with and recommends to Congress a way to get the growth in spending under control, so that our debt will begin to go down as a proportion of our gross domestic product. Congress could then vote it up or down, and be held accountable.” • “I appreciate the privilege of serving in the United States Senate. And I hope that most days I can make the country a little bit better – at least that’s what I get up each day trying to do.”