Speeches & Floor Statements

Floor Remarks of Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) -- Debt Commission

Posted on December 14, 2010

I am here tonight in the spirit of my late friend, the author of Roots, Alex Haley, who lived and died by these words: "Find the good and praise it."

I am here to praise Senator Warner, Senator Chambliss, and the bipartisan group of Senators who have focused their attention on this urgent crisis that our country faces, the national debt.

This is the way the Senate is supposed to work: to see an urgent need, develop a bipartisan consensus to get to work on it, come up with a strategy to deal with it, and get a result - not just make speeches but get a result.
We have heard the evidence. We have had the good example set by five Members of our body -- two Democrats, three Republicans -- who took a courageous step in their action on the fiscal commission earlier this month. The Senate should follow that example.

I am encouraged by what I hear from the bipartisan group of Senators addressing our debt issue. This is the way the Senate is supposed to work. Let me conclude with just one example from history. I picked up a book the other night called "The British Overseas." It is a British historian's view of the American Revolution.

He pointed this out: At the time of the American Revolution, the interest on the national debt of the British empire amounted to one-half of the national revenue of the British empire. In other words, at the time we fought for and won our independence, Great Britain had an unconscionable debt. The debt forced the British into some imprudent decisions. One was the Stamp Act and one was a little tax on tea, which occurred at about that time.

So big debts force big countries into bad decisions. The leadership we have seen across the aisle is a good start for the serious effort toward dealing with our debt crisis. I am here today to commend those Senators, both Democrats and Republicans, who are part of it.