Email Insights: Bradley Byrne highlights federal spending crisis

Bradley Byrne Floor Speech

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday to deliver a speech on how out-of-control federal spending is reaching crisis level and could result in a catastrophe for the next generation.

In an email Tuesday afternoon, Byrne released the following video of his speech where he talked specifically about means based entitlement programs, including Medicaid, Obamacare, food stamps, among other welfare programs, noting spending within these programs has ballooned in recent years, despite improvements in the economy.

We have reached a point where we must get serious about reining in our out-of-control spending or else we may fall victim to a similar fate that many nations throughout history have experienced.

A full transcript of the video can be found below.

Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to talk about one of the biggest problems facing our nation – out-of-control spending.

At this very moment the national debt sits at over $18 trillion dollars. We have not arrived at this point because of the actions of one party or one administration. Over the years, both parties have enacted programs that increased our debt.

That said, we have reached a point where we must get serious about reining in our out-of-control spending or else we may fall victim to a similar fate that many nations throughout history have experienced.

Here in the United States, our spending problems are reaching crisis level, and we are effectively leaving behind a catastrophe for the next generation.

The basis of the American dream is that if you work hard, you can leave behind a better future for your children and grandchildren. That fundamentally American vision is in jeopardy due in part to our irresponsible spending.

I am a new and very proud grandfather. My grandson, MacGuire, is about to turn one and already his share of the national debt – before his first birthday – is over $40,000.

We cannot turn a blind eye to this problem and pretend that it will just get better. Let me explain why.

There are two basic forms of federal spending: mandatory spending and discretionary spending.

Mr. Speaker, when most people think of the federal government, they are probably thinking about discretionary programs. This is money that goes to things like our military, highways, national parks, agriculture, and medical research.

The good thing about discretionary spending is that each year Congress has the ability to control these spending levels through the appropriations process.

Since Republicans took control of the House in 2010, we have had some success in cutting funding to various federal agencies. For example, agencies like the IRS and EPA have seen their budgets cut in response to egregious executive overreach.

While it may seem like it covers the majority of government operations, discretionary spending actually only makes up about one third of all federal spending.

The other portion is what we call mandatory spending. This, along with the interest on the national debt, makes up almost two thirds of all federal spending.

Now here’s the really bad part about mandatory spending: it is on auto-pilot. Unlike discretionary spending, mandatory spending does not require annual appropriations from Congress. Instead, as long as someone meets the requirements, these programs dole out money without any action from Congress.

Within these mandatory spending programs are what we call means based entitlement programs, including things like Medicaid, Obamacare, food stamps, welfare, and the like.

For example, in Fiscal Year 2012, the federal government spent almost $800 billion on over 92 programs aimed at lifting Americans out of poverty. Despite that record spending, too many Americans simply stopped looking for work. The system is failing the very people it was designed to help.

While many of these means based entitlement programs have good intentions, they aren’t supposed to be permanent. These programs were created to help lift people out of poverty, not keep them there.

That’s why it shouldn’t be a surprise that during the recent economic downturn spending on these means based entitlement programs ballooned.

What is surprising however is that as the economy has improved, the spending on these programs has not gone down. In fact, spending on some of these programs remains at all-time highs.

Now, Republicans and Democrats both agree that Americans shouldn’t be stuck in poverty, and that’s why we should put party politics aside and come together to address this dangerous cycle of government dependence.

We need to reform these means based entitlement programs to put a real focus on workforce training to help connect Americans with the skills they need to get a good paying job that meets workforce demands.

We could block grant, through the appropriations process, money to the state governments and allow them to craft poverty fighting programs based on their state’s specific societal problems and economic needs.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I know that reforming these mandatory spending programs won’t be easy, but I didn’t run for Congress to come up here and make easy decisions. I doubt my colleagues did either.

Before I leave this body, I want to be able to look at my grandson MacGuire and know that I have been a part of a real effort to rein in spending and put our nation on a fiscally stable path for the next generation.

We won’t be able to make any real progress toward that goal without serious reforms to these means based entitlement programs. That is what is driving our debt, and we cannot keep looking the other way as the national debt skyrockets.

So, Mr. Speaker, I call on my colleagues to join me in addressing our nation’s spending crisis. Let’s come together and make the tough choices, let’s get our spending under control, and let’s leave behind a better America for the next generation.”