So let me start the discussion of government spending by setting the record straight. At the beginning of the last decade, the year 2000, America had a budget surplus of over $200 billion.
By — by the time I took office, we had a one-year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program.
On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. All this was before I walked in the door.
But what frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is Election Day. We can’t wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about the other side, a belief that if you lose, I win. Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can.
To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades and the people expect us to solve problems, not run for the hills.
And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town, a supermajority, then the responsibility to govern is now yours, as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it’s not leadership. We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions.
The more that TV pundits reduce serious debates to silly arguments, big issues into sound bites, our citizens turn away.
No wonder there’s so much cynicism out there. No wonder there’s so much disappointment.
Those of us in public office can respond to this reality by playing it safe and avoid telling hard truths and pointing fingers. We can do what’s necessary to keep our poll numbers high and get through the next election instead of doing what’s best for the next generation.