We are officially about three hours and change away from a shutdown of the federal government. Let me point you to this section of a speech that U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson made from the chamber floor today.
The Georgia senator did not tell U.S. House Speaker John Boehner to give up. But Isakson did tell the speaker that it was time to cash in his chips and declare victory. The emphasis in the passage below is mine:
Mr. ISAKSON: Mr. President, in the South we have an old saying: If you find yourself at the bottom of a hole, stop digging.
We are at that point. We accomplished some amazing things in the last 3, 4 weeks. I commend the House on the cuts that have taken place, but we ought to remember we are focusing on the minnow, when the big fish is on the horizon.
There is only so much we can cut when 50 percent of a fiscal year is gone. People are talking about how little we are cutting out of small areas. That is because it is all there is to cut from. The cuts have demonstrated that we can begin to get our house in order.
The big enchilada is coming up with the big 2012 budget.
I did a little research on what we have done in the last 3, 4 years. In the last 3 years, we spent all our money on omnibus appropriations, except one Defense appropriations act. In doing the research, we spent on average 4 days of debate on those three bills.
We have had the small business bill on the floor for 12 days, and we haven’t finished it yet. We spent 12 days on the small business reform bill, and we only spent an average of 4 days on spending over $10 trillion. It is time that we got the current agreement — and I understand there is one — on how much we cut done. If we have differences on policy, we can reserve them for debates on the 2012 appropriations act.
Let’s get moving. Everybody here knows we have two big votes on the horizon. One is the pending debt ceiling vote at some time in May or June, and the other is the fiscal year 2012 appropriations. We will not get a second chance on those. The world markets are not going to give us another year to spend our money in a helter-skelter manner. We have the ability and the brain power, and we need the commitment in this body to spend money like the American people have to spend theirs. That is all they ask of us. We don’t need to be extravagant, frivolous, and wasteful.
Another thing on the current, pending, looming possible shutdown is that it is absolutely crazy, when we have committed our sons and daughters to harm’s way — right now, they are in three countries: Libya by the Air Force, Iraq, and Afghanistan. To put them in a position of accruing their income because we have shut down the government is just not right. It is not the right thing to do. We ought to debate these matters on the Senate floor with the government functioning.
I hope all of my colleagues will recognize that we are about to take defeat from the jaws of victory. We have won the battle on the short term with the cuts we needed. Let’s get this short-term cut done, let’s get the CR done, and then let’s get to the kitchen table of the American people and get it done for fiscal year 2012 and the years ahead.
We have to find out how to pay back over time $14 trillion. That is going to take a lot of commitment, work, and time. Let’s get to it. Let’s get the CR done. Let’s come back next week and finish dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s and commit ourselves that the rest of the year is about America’s future, it is about our children and grandchildren; it is about beginning to rein in expenses and spend our money accountably and predictably so the American people can expect of us what we always demand of them.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider