AN HONEST BALANCED BUDGET; Congressional Record Vol. 141, No. 196
(House of Representatives - December 11, 1995)

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                       AN HONEST BALANCED BUDGET

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the 
gentleman from Hawaii [Mr. Abercrombie] is recognized for 60 minutes.
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that the special 
orders that I have been involved in over the past several days, 
actually week, of the discussions of the balanced budget are beginning 
to attract some attention from around the country and from our 
colleagues here in the House.
  As the Speaker knows, I have been indicating in my discussions that 
far from balancing the budget, in the proposals that are before us now, 
we are merely shifting the deficit.
  I have had people call in and express their gratitude that I am 
explaining this in a step-by-step manner so that it is easy for the 
average taxpayer as well as the average Member who might not be 
completely familiar with the budget process to understands what it is 
that we are doing, what it is that is being proposed.
  I have long since learned, and I am sure the Speaker would agree, 
that not just in politics but I guess in all of life, it is the obvious 
that you have to state over and over again because it is the obvious 
that you tend to take most for granted and forget first.
  The obvious in this situation is, is that every time you hear someone 
stand up and say, ``Oh, we're going to balance the budget in 7 years,'' 
you should immediately get on your skeptical clothes to protect 
yourself. You should be skeptical for the following reason.
  If you look at the presentation of the budget, do not listen to the 
rhetorical lines about balancing the budget in 7 years. That is the 
little prayerful ritual that is being recited on this floor and on the 
so-called news talk shows, on the news bites, the 9- and 10-second 
blips you get on television or here on the radio, that we are going to 
balance the budget in 7 years. It is merely a question of numbers.

[[Page H14246]]

  Today, for example, you can read in the New York Times or in the 
Washington Post arguments about whether or not we are talking about 
numbers on Medicare.
  You can see, and I have here, Mr. Speaker, the national edition of 
the New York Times for today with a headline, GOP, the Republican 
Party, emphasizes points of similarity on Medicare. That is the 
  Then you have little graphs. Everybody has a graph that they want to 
show you, especially if the do not want you to understand what is 
really at stake.
  What is at point where Medicare is concerned in the budget proposal, 
Mr. Speaker, is that, yes, there will be a increase in spending in both 
proposals, the President's proposal is it stands to this point, and the 
Republican proposal. The question is, is there going to be a sufficient 
increase to cover the number of people who need it?
  The gentleman from Wisconsin [Mr. Obey] who spoke just before me 
indicated very clearly that we are facing a situation, because we did 
not do national health care in the previous 2 years, a situation which 
is dire, which is going to cause even more people to be lacking health 
insurance; going to cause us, I believe, the case can be made, to 
expand even more funds than are projected.
  Everybody is trying to say, the Republican proposal says they are 
going to save Medicare. How are they going to save it? They are going 
to cut it hundreds of billions of dollars. They are going to block-
grant to the States the Medicaid Program, which means the States will 
become liable for Medicaid, or they will alter the eligibility 
requirements. Your mother, your father, yourself, you may not be 
eligible. Anybody out there who thinks that they are going to be freed 
of the consequences of these budget proposals, believe me, better think 
about it again.

  So I ask you, let us suppose, if both the Republicans and the 
Democrats are claiming, as they do on these charts, that they are 
increasing spending for Medicare, then how is it that they are going to 
take $270 billion in the Republican plan out of Medicare? How can you 
be increasing the spending and then taking money out of it supposedly 
in savings at the same time? I do not think you can do that. You cannot 
move forward and run backward at the same time.
  Well, I will tall you how they say they are going to do it. They say 
we will increase the amount----
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Certainly.
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. I have discussed budget issues with the gentleman 
before and look forward to his budget plan that will balance the budget 
in the year 2002 and increase $1 trillion more----
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Reclaiming my time, this is a perfect example if 
what I was talking about. You just heard the ritual incantation of 
balancing the budget in the year 2002. That will not happen. You can 
recite that like a prayer. You have no proposal. You have never made a 
statement that remotely reflects a balanced budget in the year 2002.
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. From the scoring that I have seen, actually CBO 
scores that we balance the budget. But let me ask you this question----
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Reclaiming my time, because it you are going to come 
into my time, you are going to have to be accurate.
  All the CBO scoring, and CBO for those who do not know, is the 
Congressional Budget Office. Every chart of the Congressional Budget 
Office shows that the budget will not be balanced in 2002 unless you 
play an accounting trick which takes your deficit off-budget. Your 
proposal proposes to take some $636 billion from Social Security, plus 
interest, put it off-budget and pretend you do not owe it in the year 
  Every Congressional Budget Office chart, every analysis that they 
have, which I have before me, indicates that there will be a massive 
deficit shift in 2002 while you claim to have a balanced budget.
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. Well, if the gentleman will yield, a lot of people 
would accuse anybody coming to this floor and stating that the 
Republican budget does not go far enough to balance the budget as being 
a little bit less than sincere.
  I would ask the gentleman what balanced budget plan has he supported 
in this year of all the balanced budget plans that have before the 
floor. Or name one budget that your majority leader has supported or 
name one budget that the President has supported that will go as far as 
the budget that the Republican Party put forward that Democrats, some 
conservative Democrats and moderate Democrats, have actually supported.
  I think, and let me just say this, as I have said before when I have 
seen the gentleman on the floor. I agree with you, that if we go that 
extra mile and find a way to get Social Security off-budget and, as I 
have said before, I want to work with you on this because I think it is 
a laudable goal. If we go that extra mile, get Social Security off-
budget, still balance the budget in 7 years, with Social Security off-
budget, that is a fantastic goal.
  My only point is this: When you come to the floor and when others 
come to the floor stating that the Republicans do not go far enough 
because we do not take Social Security off-budget, it seems a little 
bit less than sincere. The same question could be raised about 

  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Reclaiming my time. You have asked me a series of 
  Let us go backward in them. Seeming less than sincere. I assure you I 
am quite sincere.
  Let us go over what the deficits are, and I will tell you, before we 
go to the deficits, I will give you the answer to the first part of 
your question about what proposals have been on the floor. No proposals 
that has been on this floor is going to balance the budget in 7 years. 
That is almost impossible.
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. Is that why you have voted against those?
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I have never said on this floor that the Republicans 
do not go far enough. To the contrary, if you want to eviscerate this 
country, that is up to you, and if you want to run for office in 1996 
on the basis that you want to strip this country of every value that 
means anything in a republic, you can do that.
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. If the gentleman will yield, just to answer that 
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I still have the time.
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. How does evisceration----
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Mr. Speaker, I have the time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Hawaii controls the time.
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I have the time. There is no budget proposal on this 
floor that is going to balance the budget in the year 2002. It cannot 
be done. It cannot be done unless you use the most draconian 
methodology that would, as I indicate, eviscerate the capacity of the 
country to sustain itself, either socially or economically.

                              {time}  1230

  On the other hand, if the gentleman wants to balance the budget, if 
that is what his goal is, then the gentleman is going to have to do it 
the sensible way that anybody else does it, the way other 
municipalities and States and countries and villages do. The gentleman 
is going to have to have a capital expenditures budget. The gentleman 
is going to have to have an operating budget and find a methodology for 
dealing with it.
  How much revenue is coming in? How much is going out? How much can we 
afford to spend in a given year? And then lay that out over a 10-, 20-, 
or 30-year period in order to achieve it. That is the way we do it.
  My colleagues are not going to do it by the intuitive method of the 
Speaker of picking out a 7-year period in which they increase the 
deficit, increase spending, and at the same time claim that they are 
balancing the budget.
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I yield to the gentleman from Florida.
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. Mr. Speaker, I greatly appreciate the gentleman 
giving me some time, and I certainly would invite the gentleman to 
speak when I have an hour.
  But first of all, the gentleman has stated that the Republican plan 
eviscerates America and tears away basic 

[[Page H14247]]
American values by draconian cuts. Then the gentleman moves forward and 
says that the Republicans are actually spending more and the deficit 
increases. It brings to mind a Washington Post editorial that basically 
says that the Democrats are being less than sincere when they say that 
a plan on Medicare, for instance, that increases spending by 45 percent 
is draconian.
  Now, the gentleman went to school, I suppose he went to school in 
Hawaii. I went to school in Florida and across the Southwest. Where I 
went to school, a 45-percent increase where one goes from spending $850 
billion to $1.6 trillion over 7 years is an increase; where the average 
senior citizen goes from, and the gentleman has heard these numbers, 
goes from $4,600 to $7,100 per year, that is per beneficiary.
  That is why the Washington Post, on November 16 said, and I would 
like the gentleman to respond to this because I have yet to hear a 
Democrat who has been attacking the Republican's plan to balance the 
budget, I have yet to hear anybody respond to this. If I could just 
read this and have the gentleman respond:

       Bill Clinton and the congressional Democrats were handed an 
     unusual chance this year to deal constructively with the 
     effect of Medicare on the deficit, and they blew it. The 
     chance came in the form of the congressional Republican plan 
     to balance the budget over seven years. Some other aspects of 
     that plan deserved to be resisted, but the Republican 
     proposal to get at the deficit partly by confronting the cost 
     of Medicare deserved support. The Democrats, led by the 
     president, chose instead to present themselves as Medicare's 
     great protectors. They have shamelessly used the issue, 
     demagogued on it, because they think that's where the votes 
     are and the way to derail the Republican proposals generally. 
     The president was still doing it this week; a Republican 
     proposal to increase Medicare premiums was one of the reasons 
     he alleged for the veto that has shut down the government--
     and never mind that he himself, in his own budget, would 
     countenance a similar increase.
        We've said some of this before; it gets more serious. If 
     the Democrats play the Medicare card and win, they will have 
     set back for years, for the worst of political reasons, the 
     very cause of rational government in behalf of which they 
     profess to be behaving. Politically, they will have helped to 
     lock in place the enormous financial pressure that they 
     themselves are first to deplore on so many other federal 
     programs, not least the programs for the poor.

  Mr. Speaker, the gentleman from Hawaii heard this, he saw on the 
front of the New Republic this past week most likely where the cover 
story by a former member of the Clinton administration said that the 
Democrats' demagoguing on Medicare was even worse than the American 
public suspected. That is the New Republic and the Washington Post. It 
is not the Washington Times. If the gentleman could just respond to 
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I would be delighted to respond to that. I would not 
accuse the Washington Post of demagoguing, especially if they are an 
editor of the Washington Post who has health insurance and is not 
likely to lose it.
  It is very interesting, I have indicated, and as far as the 
President's budget is concerned he has indicated, and the news page 
from the New York Times, which I just showed, this agrees exactly with 
what the gentleman just said in terms of increased spending. I said 
already this morning that both the Republicans and the Democrats are 
proposing increased spending.
  The difference is if the spending does not match the need, then we 
fall behind. What the Republican proposal is, is that they want to 
throw a 10-foot rope to someone who is 12 feet out in the water and 
drowning. The fact that they are throwing a 10-foot rope does not do 
anything for the person who is drowning, because they need 12 feet in 
order to reach him.
  What is happening is that under Medicare and the expenditures under 
the proposal by the Republicans is that they are going to make the 
insurance companies richer. The Republicans are going to take nine 
steps backward. They are not going to have a sufficient amount of money 
to be able to deal with the need, particularly if they put on a 
Medicaid proposal in conjunction with it that sees to it that more 
people are ineligible for Medicaid spending, so they will be showing up 
in the emergency rooms, and those who do have health insurance will be 
paying even higher premiums to take care of those who do not have 
  So, all the Republicans have done with this proposal and so-called 
increase is shift the burden of paying for it to those who already do 
have insurance.
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. The gentleman called it a so-called increase, and 
when you go up 45 percent, I understand if you believe that we need to 
go up 60 percent instead of 45 percent. That is fine. But the fact of 
the matter is, as we know, Medicare has been growing at a 10-percent 
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Not in Hawaii, because we have health care in 
Hawaii. We have had it for 20 years.
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. Right. And I think the Democratic plan, let us just 
say Bill Clinton's plan, was to push it up 6 percent, and in his 
testimony in 1993, when he talked about having a single-payer health 
care system nationwide, in his testimony and in Hillary Clinton's 
testimony, the administration's position was that Medicare needed to 
grow at twice the rate of inflation. That is exactly what happens under 
the proposal, which actually came about after the President and the 
Medicare board of trustees said back in April that Medicare was going 
  The gentleman again talks about cuts, and he talks about decreased 
payments. To me, and I am just a freshman here, but to me and to a lot 
of people out in the country, and I am sure even people in Hawaii, a 
lot of people do not understand how we can call it spending cuts where 
spending skyrockets 45 percent.
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Reclaiming my time, Mr. Speaker, if they do not 
understand it, I will attempt to explain it once again.
  I think there is a certain amount of calories one needs to be able to 
sustain one's existence. Supposing it is 1,800 calories a day. If we 
are putting out 1,500 calories, we are 300 calories short. What I am 
indicating to the gentleman is that the proposal for block granting 
Medicaid and for the so-called Medicare increase, when it does not 
match the need, then we are going to fall down and someone is going to 
have to pay for it in society.
  Does anybody really believe, Mr. Speaker, at this point that, on the 
one hand the Republicans can be claiming, ``Oh, no we are going to 
increase spending,'' and at the same time we are going to have 
tremendous savings? And at the same time we are going to increase the 
deficit, but at the same time we are going to balance the budget?
  Now, I do not know about someone else's definition of demagogue, but 
I think that that might qualify at the very least.
  Let me ask the gentleman a question, then, in turn. As I said, I 
believe I have indicated my answer to your question about the 
Washington Post editorial on Medicare. It does not make any sense 
because it does not get to the target.
  Is it not a case, I ask my good friend, that the conference report, 
and I hope that he will take my word that I do, in fact, have a bona 
fide copy of the conference report on the budget before me. The 
concurrent resolution for the budget. Does it not indicate on page 3 
under deficits, that for purposes of enforcement of the resolution, the 
amount of the deficits are as follows: 1996, 245,600,000,000. Is that 
not the deficit figure that the Committee on the Budget is using in its 
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. I do not have the conference report in front of me, 
but if the gentleman wants to go through it and wants to read them off 
to me.
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. No, I will not read them all off. I will indicate 
that starting in this year, 1996, there is a $245.6 billion deficit and 
it goes on to the year 2002 over the next 7 years, and in 2002 it is 
indicated, and I grant you this is in January, the numbers could change 
up or down depending on what the Congressional Budget Office says this 
week to, $18.4 billion, $18,400,000,000. So each year there is a 
  It does not bother me. I am not arguing that somehow the deficit is 
supposed to disappear in a year's time. I do not believe that would be 
good economically. We could have that discussion sometime: The 
philosophy of economics. But I think it is generally agreed, at least 
by those of us here in the Congress, to eliminate it all in 1 year 
would probably be impossible.

[[Page H14248]]

  But nonetheless, would the gentleman agree, and the gentleman has 
been talking about the budget, that in general, whether my numbers are 
exact or not, that there is a deficit proposed in this year, and a 
deficit in the Republican budget and the Democratic budget until the 
year 2002? Somehow it has to be paid for. That is the question, is it 
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. That is the question, and there is a deficit 
starting this year, and the plan is over 7 years that we go to zero 
deficit under the way that Washington scores deficits right now.
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Reclaiming my time. I thank the gentleman very much. 
This is getting productive. Under the way we score deficits right now.
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. And the way Democrats have for 40 years.
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Would the gentleman agree that, reading again from 
the same title I where the deficits were, as I indicated, that the 
public debt, which this year, 1996, will be $5.21 trillion, $5.2 
trillion. In the year 2002, the public debt will be $6.7 trillion. That 
is an increase in the public debt; is it not?

  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. It is, and if the gentleman would yield, I would 
like to ask the gentleman a question, because we are getting at a very 
good point.
  I want you to know, and I guess I should not publicize this any more 
than it has been publicized, but I was the only Republican to vote 
against reconciliation the first time through, because I did not think 
we went far enough to getting the deficit down.
  But let me say this, I know there was not a single Democrat, because 
I talked to a good number of them, that voted against this budget 
package because they did not think it cut enough. I know that to be the 
case, because the interesting thing that the Republicans have found 
themselves in this year is that the conservative base that is pushing 
them to balance the budget immediately, now rather than later, the 
freshman class, of which I am a Member, where we put forward our own 
plan to balance the budget in 5 years, we have been savagely attacked, 
being called mean-spirited. You have heard what I would call 
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I would never say anything like that.
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. Of course you would not. That is Hawaiian manners. 
It encourages me that I find somebody coming to the floor on the other 
side of the aisle who is saying, ``Hey, maybe we need to push a little 
harder; we need to do more to balance the budget.''
  Mr. Speaker, I think today is a historic day in the 104th Congress. 
Let me say this to the gentleman. I will ask him to work together with 
me to come up with a proposal that will take Social Security off budget 
and raise the revenue to keep Social Security off budget, while still 
moving forward.
  Let me tell my colleague a great idea. I think we need to get 
together a BRAC-like task force where we get people from AARP, and 
economists, and we need to get together and look and see, take a 
serious look at this CPI, the consumer price index that Pat Moynihan 
has been talking about saying it is 1 percentage point too high; get a 
task force that will protect the interests of seniors. And if they 
adjust it up 0.5 percent, as the Democratic Coalition budget does, or 1 
percent, as Democratic Senator Patrick Moynihan suggests, what we do 
with that money from this BRAC-like task force that the seniors will 
take part in, we roll that money over and get Social Security off 
budget; keep off budget the money that we save for the Social Security 
system through the CPI adjustments.
  Is that something that the gentleman would like to work on with me in 
a bipartisan manner? Because I really do think we are making progress 
here today. This is historic.
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, I am glad the 
gentleman thinks it is so historic.
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. Mr. Speaker, I have not heard a Democrat say that 
the Republican plan did not go far enough.
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I think the Republican plan goes way too far. That 
is my point. I do not believe it is a plan. It is a kind of 
incantation, a magic formula that would have all of the reality of 
Merlin the Magician.
  The gentleman indicated that he would like to have a BRAC-like 
commission. BRAC, for those who do not know, is the Base Realignment 
Closure Commission. I think we may be closing down the opportunity for 
a whole lot of people in this country if we went as far and as fast as 
the gentleman indicated.
  I would never characterize the gentleman personally, but I believe 
that such an approach would be an extreme approach. It would not be 
warranted, given the social stability and the economic stability of our 
  Now, I still have the time, if the gentleman would be kind enough to 
let me respond. The gentleman indicated that the freshman class of 
Republicans have put forward a balanced budget proposal which might 
succeed in 5 years, and he asked me at the same time, would we work, 
could we work together to take Social Security off budget?
  Mr. Speaker, I am sure the gentleman is aware, and therefore he must 
have misspoke, I am sure he is aware that in the budget proposals right 
now, that Social Security already is listed as off budget. The problem 
is that we are taking money from it.
  Now, does the freshman proposal of the Republicans, the freshman 
Republican proposal take money from the Social Security trust fund in 
order to help balance the budget?
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. Not that I am aware of.
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I would be mightily amazed, then, as to where they 
are going to get the money. The gentleman is aware that the Republican 
proposal that is on the floor so far from the Committee on the Budget 
does take from the Social Security trust fund?
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. Is the gentleman yielding to me?
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Yes, I am.
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. No, not any more than Democratic proposals in the 
past have, again using the framework that we use that the Democrats 
have used for 40 years. That is why I was asking the gentleman, and I 
just got a note that I have got to leave the floor in 10 minutes, if he 
would be interested in working with me in figuring out a way of putting 
together a BRAC-type task force to adjust the consumer price index and 
its impact on Social Security, and whatever money is saved, we roll 
over into the Social Security trust fund, thereby pouring billions and 
billions of dollars to keep Social Security solvent after the year 
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. My answer to the gentleman is I would be delighted 
to work with him at any time on such a proposal, and I would be 
delighted to have further discussions on the realities of the Social 
Security trust fund.
  Mr. SCARBOROUGH. Great, I would love to. I think coming from Florida, 
obviously, it is extremely important to the people in our State. I 
heard that time and time again when I was campaigning a year ago, why 
do we not take Social Security off budget? And, of course, we can say 
that it is off budget, but the fact of the matter is that the 
Democrats, when they controlled Congress, and the Republicans this 
year, have not put up that Chinese wall to separate the two. If we can 
work together, I do think this would be a historic moment.
  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Mr. Speaker, I reiterate, I would be delighted to 
work with the gentleman at any point. Speaking as I do as the 
Representative of the southernmost State in the United States, Hawaii, 
I would be glad to do that.
  Mr. Speaker, I particularly appreciate the dialog with the gentleman 
from Florida [Mr. Scarborough]. I have listened with interest and with 
close regard to his remarks on the floor in previous times, and I think 
that it is well worth it at this point to explicate just for a moment 
or two on some of the points that he raised, because they do fit into 
the context of my general discussion.
  Mr. Speaker, you may recall that I had indicated that there is, in 
fact, in the budget document proposal of the Republican Party, a 
deficit this year. Some $245 billion. There is, at least, in the budget 
resolution as presented so far, which will go on up to $108 billion in 
the year 2002. It accumulates, obviously. The public debt is 
  We move then to Social Security, because the gentleman from Florida 
is quite correct. His constituents are sharp. They understand what is 
happening. We have an accounting trick in 

[[Page H14249]]
the Federal Government, which all parties have utilized to this point, 
in which we say that the Social Security revenues are off budget.
  Now, I do not know about your budget. Well, I do know about your 
budget, Mr. Speaker. I am sure yours and mine are exactly the same. We 
cannot get away with that. People who try to pretend that what they owe 
really does not count because it is off budget and act accordingly, 
sometimes end up in front of long-robed judges with prison sentences 
facing them. Or at worst, and I suppose at best, find themselves 
shamefacedly saying to their spouses, ``Yes, actually we have 
not balanced the budget. We actually owe more money than we can pay.''

  But where Social Security is concerned, Mr. Speaker, I want to 
indicate that according to the Congressional Budget Office, the 
revenues for Social Security are in excess of what is needed for 
expenditure this year, and on up to the year 2002.
  Let me repeat that. There are more revenues coming into Social 
Security trust fund than there are revenues going out. That means there 
is a surplus. Here is where the real surplus is. There is no surplus in 
the budget. There is a surplus in the Social Security fund.
  So, the constituents of the good gentleman from Florida, when they 
say let us take it really off budget, what they mean is do not use it 
as an accounting trick. Do not take money to pay your bills from Social 
Security, and leave an IOU in the Social Security trust fund.
  My point, Mr. Speaker, is that this budget document put forward by 
the gentleman from Georgia [Mr. Gingrich] and his budget team, shows, 
for example, in 1996, $374 billion, almost $375 billion coming into the 
Social Security trust fund, and about $300 billion going out. A surplus 
clearly of about $74 billion, $75 billion.
  The problem is that in order to achieve this balance, both in the 
year 1996 and 1997, and on to the year 2002, the proposal of the 
Republican budget is to take money from Social Security, leave an IOU 
for the principal plus interest, and in the year 2002, be able to claim 
that by borrowing from Social Security, they have balanced the budget.
  I will indicate again, Mr. Speaker, that is not the case. What they 
have done is shift the deficit. They are not balancing the budget. They 
are shifting the deficit. It is as if we were taking our checking 
account and our savings account and then taking the savings account of 
our mom and dad, drawing down on the savings account of our mom and 
dad, and then telling our family that we have balanced the budget and 
paid all of our bills.
  Mr. Speaker, every bill that comes in in the year 2002, we will be 
able to pay, and the revenues coming in and the revenues going out will 
match. That is to say, they will be balanced. But we have neglected to 
tell mom and dad that we took money out of their savings account in 
order to accomplish that.
  Mr. Speaker, the way I add it up, and the way I went to school, as 
the gentleman from Florida indicated, I am sure we had similar math 
experiences, the way I add it up, we owe our mom and dad. The fact that 
we call it off budget in the Government does not mean that we owe our 
mom and dad any less money.
  What is the Social Security trust fund? The Social Security trust 
fund is for those who are eligible to collect those benefits at a 
certain time in their life when they have retired at a certain age and 
under certain circumstances. When they meet the qualifications of it, 
they get the benefit. One of the arguments made by young people is that 
there may not be sufficient funds in the Social Security trust fund to 
meet their needs when they are eligible for it. I would say if we keep 
taking from this fund, and leaving IOU's in it with no plan to pay it 
back, that is exactly what is going to happen at some point in the 
future. Not now. Not in 2002. But as we get past that time, 2013, 2020, 
2050, you and I will not be here in 2050, Mr. Speaker, and that is one 
of the real difficulties that I have with this proposal.
  Mr. Speaker, what we are saying is for short-term political benefit, 
rhetorical benefit that will help us in an electoral capacity, ``I 
balanced the budget,'' that kind of discussion with the voters, that we 
are going to leave the children and the grandchildren and the great 
grandchildren bereft of those funds which are supposedly in there for 
their benefit.

  One of the reasons that that is so is that we are going to have an 
ever-increasing number of people who are eligible for Social Security 
and a decreasing number of people who will be working to pay the Social 
Security taxes to put into the fund to see that it remains solvent. 
That is a genuine problem that we have to look at.
  I believe that government is for the long term; not for the short 
term. I believe that the decisions that I make today have an impact on 
generations to come. I think I have to take that kind of 
responsibility. I cannot make a decision. I take that back. I am sure I 
am as human as anybody else. I think I start thinking at any given time 
during the day, ``What is in my immediate interest? How will I have to 
explain this? What is going to be the impact on me?'' I am up for 
election in 1996. I intend to run 1996. How do I explain to my 
constituents what they need to know, rather than perhaps what they 
would like to hear?
  Mr. Speaker, I think my obligation as a Member of Congress is to tell 
people what they need to know; not necessarily what they would like to 
hear. What they would to like to hear is that we can spend more and at 
the same time save more; that we can balance the budget, but at the 
same time we can increase the deficit.
  Mr. Speaker, I suppose that people would like to hear that, but I 
think my constituents, and I am sure that the constituents of the 
gentleman from Florida are the same, they do not want to hear a fairy 
tale. They do not want to be told something that is not true or that 
they are going to be all right or fiscally secure, that their future is 
going to be soundly based economically and socially and we will have 
stability in this country, and then find out that is not so. They would 
rather know what the truth is, so that they can figure out what needs 
to be done to get to the goal that we want to achieve.
  Yes, it is true that Democratic administrations and Republican 
administrations have used Social Security in a similar way. That does 
not make it right. The difference has been in the past that when they 
went into the Social Security trust fund, they never pretended they 
were balancing the budget with it. Rather, they were meeting current 

  The debt that we have now, between $480 and $500 billion that we owe 
in principal, I am not sure whether interest is involved in that or 
what the interest is at this point, but we owe upward of half a 
trillion dollars right now to Social Security. I do not know of any 
plan to pay it back. It is a paper transaction, according to those who 
want to use it for the bookkeeping trick that it is. But, nonetheless, 
it is real people expecting real dollars to come out of that fund in 
the future.
  Now we propose, in the name of balancing the budget, not just meeting 
current expenses. Let me explain a little further. If we went to our 
mom and dad and said to them, ``Look, we are having a tough time. There 
was a hurricane.'' Mr. Speaker, as you know, Florida has suffered 
through more than one devastating hurricane. Hawaii suffered through a 
hurricane, Hurricane Iniki, that hit the island of Kauai. California's 
tragic earthquake. Just take those three national disasters. We are 
talking about tens of billions of dollars worth of damage and 
subsequent investment by the people of this country in the 
infrastructure and social stability of just those three States, 
California, Hawaii, and Florida, all across the spectrum of our 
society, literally and otherwise.
  Mr. Speaker, I consider that an investment in the people of our 
country. I do not object to that. We have these kinds of disasters. So, 
I suppose I could go to mom and dad and say, ``Mom, we have had a 
disaster occur. We have had some difficulties and we did not get enough 
from you. My salary did not cover the expenses that came up. There was 
the car crash; there was the hurricane that came through. We have got 
to fix the roof. We have to get the plumbers in and the carpenters. We 
do not have enough money coming in. We need to borrow money from you in 
order to meet these expenses.''
  Mr. Speaker, we could do that. We would prefer not to, but it could 

[[Page H14250]]
done. So, when the accusation, if you will, is made that 
administrations in the past, and as I say, they have been Democrat and 
Republican administrations, when these administrations in the past, and 
the Congresses in the past have borrowed from Social Security and voted 
for the budget, it was to meet the current expenses. They did not come 
to the well of the floor, or go on television on news shows and to 
their constituents and say, ``Oh, we are balancing the budget now.''
  Mr. Speaker, how can we balance the budget if we are taking money 
from the Social Security trust fund and have no plan to pay it back; 
pay the principal, let alone pay the interest back? That is what is to 
happen. The surpluses are here. There is no question that there is 
extra money.
  Now, is it really extra money? The reason that these surpluses are 
there, Mr. Speaker, as you may recall, in the 1980's, the same kind of 
argument was made that Social Security was going broke, therefore, we 
have to have a new system to deal with it. What we did, Mr. Speaker, is 
that the Social Security tax was raised, the amount of money that was 
required of us. We all see it on our paychecks. It is called the F-I-C-
A, the FICA tax. That is our Social Security tax. We pay the tax and 
that goes into the fund.

                              {time}  1300

  It goes into a fund right now, Mr. Speaker, and this was acknowledged 
by the Congress, acknowledged by the people of this country that they 
would put more money into the fund every year than was actually going 
to be paid out because at some point in the future those two lines 
would pass one another.
  We wanted to make sure that we had sufficient funds in the Social 
Security to take care of those folks that were coming after us down the 
line. That was our obligation, to look forward, not backward or look in 
place, run place, but to look forward. The whole society made the 
decision to do that. So when we use the word surplus, that is not 
really true. What it is, is a savings account to be drawn on at the 
proper time by those who are eligible for Social Security.
  I know, Mr. Speaker, that this sounds like pretty much of a basic 
course that I am delivering here. Some people may be saying: I know all 
of that; why is he going through something so obvious? The reason I am, 
Mr. Speaker, is I do not believe that most people in the country know 
that, instead of building up the savings in the Social Security trust 
fund so that everybody who is eligible for it is able to receive the 
benefits that we have been systematically taking the money from there, 
looting it, embezzling it, borrowing it, mortgaging it, you can run the 
whole spectrum of adjectives and descriptive phraseology.
  The fact of the matter is we have been taking from the Social 
Security trust fund, funds that were meant to be there to be saved in 
order to provide for the benefits for those who are eligible at the 
time that they become eligible. What we have is massive amounts of 
IOU's in there. That is not real money. That money has been 
budget and the Democratic budget are the same; the President's budget 
is the same. What the President is trying to say is, if you want to try 
and go through this balancing act, you have to admit that you are 
taking it from Social Security; and, if you do not want to take it from 
Social Security, you are going to have to make sure then that you do 
not make these drastic cuts. If you make these drastic cuts, you are 
going to have to take it not only from Social Security, but you are 
going to have to ncrease taxes or cost-shift the burden to others in 
the society in order to pay the bills.
  Now, there is one way not to pay the bill; do not let people be 
eligible for the payments. I understand that. When the gentleman from 
Florida said that perhaps they had not gone far enough, I cannot 
imagine what he would have in mind. We are already attacking 
agriculture, the people who grow our food. We are already attacking 
education, the future of the country and our children and young people. 
We are already attacking Medicaid, the last safety net, the last stop 
before you fall off the board, if you are ill or disabled.
  We are already attacking Medicare, the only health care system 
available to millions upon millions of people in the Nation at any kind 
of a reasonable cost. If one wants to talk about making savings, that 
is another story. Attacking waste, fraud, and abuse, I am all for it. 
Believe me, it can be done. But I do not want to hear a lot of 
discussion from people who a year ago said there was no problem with 
health care now suddenly saying, it is going to go broke.
  If it is going to go broke, you fix it. That is what you do. You fix 
it. You do not cut it. If you cut it, you have not dealt with the 
problems that are already being dealt with. Will people not be sick 
tomorrow? Will we suddenly stop having accidents? I understand now that 
we are going to increase the speed limit in this country. In some 
places I guess you will be able to drive as fast as you want. Do you 
think there is not going to be any automobile accidents, there is not 
going to be repercussion that come from those automobile accidents as a 
result of having no speed limits whatsoever, that somebody is not 
somehow going to pay for that?

  Are we going to take people when they come to the hospital after one 
of these accidents and say, I am sorry, we have got a budget that says 
we only have this much money, you will have to stay in the street? I do 
not think that is the kind of country that we want. The question is, 
Are we getting the kind of service that we need to have at a cost that 
is sufficient and fair and are we getting the kinds of services that we 
need at a cost that is sufficient and fair?
  Mr. Speaker, I want to indicate, I will reiterate from my previous 
discussion what is going to happen once this so-called balanced budget 
comes into effect.
  Mr. Speaker, let me take that time remaining then to give you some of 
the implications if this so-called balanced budget, which is really a 
shifting of the deficit, takes place. I will not use my own judgment on 
this. I will go to one of the editorials. The gentleman from Florida 
previously quoted an editorial to me from someone who no doubt has 
health insurance. So I quote an editorial as well from someone who no 
doubt has health insurance.
  The USA Today from November 6 of this year, entitled the ``Balanced 
Budget Myth'': ``Each day''--I am quoting now from that USA Today 

       Each day the debate over balancing the budget produces 
     another dire warning. The cuts are too deep, say the 
     Democrats. Taxes must fall, say the Republicans. But after 
     they compromise and begin arguing over who won a few weeks 
     from now, one truth will remain; both sides will be lying 
     because neither is talking about a truly balanced budget at 

  This is my complaint, parenthetically, Mr. Speaker.
  The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office underscored that point 
recently. It pointed out that, come 2002, when the budget will be 
balanced, under the Republican plans the Government will still be 
borrowing more than $100 billion a year. This is done by writing IOU's 
from the Treasury to Social Security and other trust funds that the 
Congress declares off budget.
  Mr. Speaker, that is not me talking. That is USA Today talking. They 
are quoting tables that I quoted from last week indicating that that is 
exactly the case. We are taking from Social Security in order to offset 
the budget deficit that we have.
  This is the point then, what happens from that. To understand, look 
ahead to 2005. That is just 10 years away. About the time it takes for 
an 11-year-old child to go from grade school through college. Think of 
that, Mr. Speaker, grade school through college. We have heard on this 
floor over and over again during this budget debate that we have to pay 
attention to the children. What is going to happen in 2005 when that 
11-year-old child goes to college.
  That year a critical balance tips. Increased costs for Social 
Security will begin to deplete Congress' cushion because the Social 
Security Trust Fund is a fiction, filled with nothing but Government 
promises to pay. Congress will gradually lose its fudge factor. By 
2013, when the trust fund peaks, taxpayers will feel a hard bite. They 
will have to start doing what the trust funds were supposed to do, pay 
for the retirement of 75 million baby boomers. The budget will 
plummet into a sea of red ink.

  That is what is going to happen. Mr. Speaker, the facts are these: 

[[Page H14251]]
it is the Republican plan, the Republican proposal, or the Democratic 
response, unless and until we deal honestly with the issue of actually 
coming into balancing, we are not going to be able to succeed. With the 
President's initial budget, the deficit began to decline, the rate of 
the deficit declined. That is to say, the absolute number of the 
deficit has gone down. The rate of the deficit has gone down. It has 
done so for 3 years. This has not happened since 1948 and the Truman 
administration. This is what needs to be done.
  Instead of the hacksaw approach, instead of the meat-ax approach, we 
need to take a gradual approach that will see to it that we are able to 
meet our obligations to Social Security, able to meet our obligations 
to our children, able to meet our obligations to our national defense, 
able to meet our obligations to ourselves as a society. Only then when 
we are truly honest with ourselves about what the deficit will be, how 
to get it down gradually, and I have indicated that there are ways of 
doing that, paying for our capital expenditures the way cities, States, 
and families do, paying for our operating expenses within a budget that 
recognizes the fact that we do not operate on a year-to-year basis and 
other such reforms, I think we can achieve that goal.
  Until that time, Mr. Speaker, I remain most reluctant to countenance 
people coming to the floor and elsewhere and making the pronouncement 
that they are balancing the budget when they are in fact shifting the 
deficit and actually attacking the Social Security trust fund in order 
to provide the basis for that rhetorical device. Unless and until, Mr. 
Speaker, we deal honestly with the American people as to what the costs 
of Government actually are to meet our fundamental obligations, we will 
find ourselves subject to that kind of illusion. And the people who 
will have to pay for it will be our children, will be our 
  They will look back on this time and say, they knew because 
somewhere, somehow, if only in the record of this Congress, somebody 
will be reading through the Congressional Record and say, it was there. 
They were on the floor. It is not just Neil Abercrombie talking about 
it. It is the USA Today. It is Bill Welch in USA Today. It is Lars-Eric 
Nelson in the Daily News. It is even the Washington Post editorial 
writers, when they get around to being halfway honest about the Social 
Security trust fund borrowing or embezzling, whatever word you want to 
  It is on this floor now. A dialog and a discussion has been started 
between Republicans and Democrats, not just between myself and the 
gentleman from Florida, but others as well. If we want to deal with 
this, let us pass a budget that admits in 1996 that it is not balanced. 
But let us make a good-faith effort to try and keep that deficit from 
rising. Let us keep the rate of the deficit going down. And next year, 
let us come back here with a budget reform proposal, a bill, that will 
put forward a long-term plan, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years. That is 
what a mortgage is, 30 years, whatever it takes in order to truly 
balance the budget and truly see to it that we meet our obligations to 
ourselves, our families, our children, and the heritage of this