Speeches & Floor Statements

Floor Remarks of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) -- Debt Ceiling Negotiations

Posted on July 7, 2011


Mr. President, I appreciate what the Senator from Illinois said and I congratulate him not necessarily for the specifics of what he said but for his general demeanor and attitude throughout this entire discussion about the deficit and the debt. He has been one of those Senators--there have been some on both sides of the aisle--who have made some difficult choices and some difficult decisions and recognizes that at a time when Washington is borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend, we have a serious problem and we have to look at our entire fiscal condition in order to solve the problem. The people of this country expect us to do that. So Senator Durbin has, by his willingness to make some hard decisions, set a pretty good example for all of us in the Senate.

Today, my hope is the meeting the President has with our congressional leaders of both sides succeeds, because if they succeed, our country succeeds. The country expects us to do that. I hope they think big. I hope they swing for the fences and get a result and bring it back to us and let us consider it and hopefully enact it and get on to other business. The debt is a major long-term problem, not just for our grandchildren but for us today. We have a bigger issue facing us which is the fact that we have had persistent unemployment in an economy that is not growing, and that is hurting too many people. So the sooner we swing for the fences and get a result and get our debt under control and deal with it in a bipartisan way, the better for the country and the quicker we will be able to get on to the larger question of jobs.

Of course, economists have made clear to us getting the debt under control has a lot to do with jobs. When our total debt is as high as it is today--nearly 100 percent of our gross domestic product--that probably costs us 1 million jobs a year. We can't solve all of that in 1 day or 1 month, but we can take a big step in the right direction, and that is what our countrymen and women want us to do.

I am glad I was able to be here to hear part of the Senator's speech and I am glad I have a chance to commend him for his leadership on this vexing and important problem we need to deal with.

I thank the President, and I yield the floor.