Alexander Says American Families Being Asked to Shoulder Too Much Debt

Calls for Commitment to Bipartisanship and Truth in Spending

Posted on February 9, 2009

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, today made the following remarks regarding the stimulus on the Senate floor. Alexander noted that the bill will add $10,000 to each family’s share of the national debt, questioned Democratic leadership’s commitment to bipartisanship, and called for a more open debate on Secretary Geithner’s banking and housing announcement expected this week. Debt and the American Family • “This is a spending bill, not a stimulus bill. It would be better if all of the money we're going to be asked to spend were on the table. Mr. Geithner is coming up to tell us how much we need for banks, we need more for housing, we need more for war. If we knew all the money we are about to borrow, our appetite for spending $1.2 trillion mostly on projects that don't create jobs in the next few months would diminish.” • “There is no doubt about the fact that it increases our national debt. The debt is not some abstract thing. Our national debt is $10.7 trillion. This adds to the national debt as much money as -- put it this way: it took from the beginning of the republic until 1982 to have a cumulative debt of $850 billion, and this is more than that. This is a lot of money.” • “We're adding the $820 billion or $830 billion we have heard about, plus the interest over the next 10 years. This adds about $10,000 to each family's share of the debt. With that $10,000 you could pay in-state tuition for a year and a half at the University of Tennessee, or 21 years of school lunches each day for the average middle school student, or a gallon of milk a week for 57 years.” Bipartisanship? • “President Bush technically didn't need the Congress to wage the war in Iraq. So he didn't get support. Without that support, it made the war harder and made the presidency less successful.” • “This is not the kind of bipartisanship that I expected. As I listened to the president I thought he wanted to change the way Washington works. And the way Washington works in a bipartisan way is for us to sit down and talk to one another and come up with something that both Republicans and Democrats agree on, not just, ‘we won the election, we will write the bill, and see if we can pick off two or three senators.’” • “This stimulus bill is the easy thing to do. What the White House and the majority in the House and the majority in the Senate need to recognize is that if you want to be bipartisan, we want our ideas considered. And if you want 20 Republicans, you're probably going to lose 10 Democrats. That's the way things work around here. So the majority can either say we won the election, we'll write the bill, and try to pick off two or three Republicans, or we can sit down together and make it work.” Truth in Spending • “We have a health care bill and energy bill but this is not a stimulative bill. Mr. Geithner has delayed the recommendation about credit and banks until we voted on this. This is supposed to be transparent. Let's put it out there. How much do we need to appropriate for banks? How much do we need to spend on housing? How much do we need to spend on the war in Afghanistan? And to finish the war in Iraq? How much do we need to spend on the health care plan that the budget says we want to work on? And how do we shape all this into some control of entitlement spending?”