Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) broke with the Democrat party line by calling for future spending cuts along with an increase to the nation’s debt ceiling.
“The American people have had enough of the accounting gimmicks and budgetary games that we play in Congress, and it’s got to stop,” Manchin said, decrying the $31.4 trillion national debt in a Senate floor speech on March 2.
“We’ve been spending more than we bring every year for the past 21 years, and the debt that has resulted from that is absolutely crippling,” Manchin said. “How many citizens how many of your constituents, my constituents … can basically run a deficit that long and still have a home, have a family, be functioning in any way, shape, or form?”
Manchin called members of Congress to think about the kitchen-table discussions they have about their own finances and take responsibility for reining in federal spending, which has grown by 80 percent in less than 10 years.
“Our problem really isn’t a Republican problem or a Democratic problem, it’s truly an American problem,” Manchin said.
“And only as we start putting our country first and acting as Americans can we fix it,” Manchin said. “The continuing weaponization of the debt and deficit and the political games that we all play, need to stop.”
The first step is for Congress to pass the 2024 fiscal year budget on time by Sept.30, said Manchin, who is up for reelection in 2024.
Noting that the country has not passed a budget on time for 20 years, Manchin said the solution be to withhold lawmakers’ pay when the budget is overdue.
“We shouldn’t go home until we get it done,” Manchin said. “And we shouldn’t get paid.”
The Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 stipulates a timeline for various stages of budget approval. That begins with the president’s submission of a draft budget by the first Tuesday in February and ends with the passage of the budget by Congress by Sept. 30.
Both branches of government frequently ignore the deadlines.
President Joe Biden has said he will submit his budget proposal on March 9. Manchin pointed out that budget committees in both chambers failed to pass budget proposals last year.
Manchin’s speech was a pleasant change from politics as usual, according to Maya MacGuineas president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
“I thought it was refreshing and welcome to have somebody put aside partisan politics to try to focus energy on one of the big challenges we need to address,” MacGuineas told The Epoch Times.
“He laid out a plan with a sensible way to engage in discussion about where to generate the savings and have that discussion start where it’s supposed to, with the budget committees, who need to do their job,” MacGuineas said.
Though some economists take issue with the comparison of the federal debt to that held by a family or business, MacGuineas said Manchin’s kitchen-table analogy is accurate.
“The argument that [federal debt] doesn’t matter because we have the power of the printing press is dangerous and one of the things that contributed to our having high levels of inflation,” MacGuineas said.
“Those are the kinds of free lunch arguments that lead to real economic destruction.”
The Epoch Times requested comments from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), chair of the Senate Committee on the Budget, and from Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), chair of the House Budget Committee, but did not receive replies by deadline time.
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