The clock is ticking on America’s debt.
“You cannot spend yourself into oblivion like this country’s been doing,” Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., says, adding that Republicans are “going to tackle it head-on.”
America has reached its current debt ceiling of $31.4 trillion, and Treasury’s extraordinary measures will likely be able to extend current federal spending levels until June.
Republicans say they won’t raise the debt ceiling until there is a cut in federal spending.
Norman joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference just outside Washington, D.C., to explain how Republicans intend to cut spending and restore fiscal responsibility in America.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Virginia Allen: It is my pleasure today to be joined by South Carolina Congressman Ralph Norman. Congressman, welcome back to “The Daily Signal Podcast.”
Rep. Ralph Norman: It’s an honor to be here, Virginia.
Allen: Well, Congressman, you serve on the House Committee on Financial Services and the House Committee on Budget. There’s a lot of concern right now in the way that the government is spending our money, taxpayer money, and at the end of the year, we hit our $31.4 trillion debt limit. Inflation is up, interest rates are up. How did we get here?
Norman: We got here by, and I have to say, both Democrat and Republican leaders have basically used our tax dollars for things that they shouldn’t have. There’s no way you can run a business, a family can operate a budget with the way the federal government has spent our money.
The good news is, with what happened with the speaker’s race, we had some concessions with priorities. And the top priority, in my opinion, economic security is national security. If we don’t get our financial house in order, then America will cease to exist as the free country that we know it. Bankruptcy is not an option, not paying debts is not an option.
But you got to realize, for every dollar spent in Washington, it’s got an advocate for it. And the lobbyists have had their way for too long. We’ve spent money on programs that should have been sunsetted a long time ago, $32 trillion and counting. There’s not one agency in Washington, D.C., from the transportation agency to the Social Security, to—all of them have got a running in the red and we just can’t keep that up.
You’ll see a conservative budget in the coming weeks that will put this country on a path of solvency, a 10-year budget that the speaker’s going to push and we have agreed to. So I’m excited. We got a lot of opportunities. It’s going to be a fight because it’s easy to spend other people’s money. But for the young people, for your generation, Virginia, the runway is short. We have a certain amount of time. You cannot spend yourself into oblivion like this country’s been doing and we’re going to tackle it head-on.
Allen: Give us a little bit of a preview of that budget if you would, what you can share. Because Republicans, of course, they say we have to cut our spending before we raise the debt limit. What areas in Republicans’ budget proposal are they proposing we cut spending?
Norman: What we will give you is a list in the coming weeks, like, nondefense discretionary dollars have got to be cut. We’ve got to highlight the programs. And what this president has done is put us in a bankruptcy position with executive orders. As an example, the free college education for every American. That’s ludicrous, he’s a hypocrite to do that. We had [Treasury Secretary] Janet Yellen giving more money to Ukraine without any systems of accountability, we’re over $100 billion there. Highways, the Obama Trail, that’s millions of dollars.
What you will see different this year—the omnibus, which was passed in last Christmastime and the Senate handcuffed us until the start of our new budget year for ’24, which is Sept. 30 or Oct. 1, American people didn’t know what was in it.
What’s changed now—and it’ll be done in the Rules Committee—every dollar spent, the American people will see what we’re proposing to cut, and it adds up pretty quickly.
The rescission package that you’ll see of getting dollars that have been for COVID that have not been spent yet, they’ve dropped money like it’s coming out of a helicopter and not knowing where it was, no accountability. That will change and we’re going to highlight it.
And I will tell you, it’s not going to be easy because, again, it’s easy to spend other people’s money but it’s now time to function, get government out of the lives of the American people, and put dollars where core values are, which has not been done for a long time.
Allen: President [Joe] Biden has announced that he is also going to put forth a budget proposal on March 9. And he says included in that will be tax increases, but he says he’s not going to increase taxes on folks making less than $400,000 a year, but he will increase taxes on those making more than that. What would that do to the economy? What effect would that have if we did see tax increases on that higher bracket of income earners?
Norman: He’s a hypocrite to say that he won’t raise taxes on those making less than $400,000. I mean, you and I are paying a tax every time we go to the gas pump, through inflation, you and I are paying a tax when we’re paying $6 for eggs. Every American has been hit with tax increases as a direct result of his intentional policies, that is basically bankrupting this country. So he knows no other—I mean, he’s big government, it’s Socialism 101 is what he wants to implement. And for the last two years, that’s what he’s done. We’ve got to stop that. And we can’t keep printing money.
Look at what inflation has done—ask the average American on the street, is he better off now than he was when President [Donald] Trump left office? They will tell you no, they’re struggling to make ends meet, directly because of his policies.
On his budget, I could care less what it says. He’s already said he wanted a clean debt limit increase, which means clean, he means no offsets. We’re not going along with that. For every dollar, if the debt limit is raised, and we don’t intend to default on our obligations, but we do intend for every dollar spent to have equal cuts so that we get us on a path of financial solvency.
Allen: Will Republicans and Democrats be able to reach an agreement by that June deadline to raise the debt ceiling when, as we’ve just been talking about, there are such differences in opinion regarding actually cutting spending?
Norman: Here’s what’s been frustrating, Virginia. We have not had any bipartisanship under [former House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi. I don’t know whether we will have any agreement on anything, we’re just two worlds apart.
Take the border, look at what that’s doing to our economy. It’s easy, it’s not a difficult cure for it. You build a wall and have a designated point of entry. You don’t let everybody in from every country on the planet. You don’t do that. He’s been unwilling to do that, he’s been unwilling to cut anything.
Look at his State of the Union where he basically didn’t say anything. … Most presidents put their vision out for the country, instead he had more divisive rhetoric. He got into how luggage at the airports was expensive, how the cashier at a restaurant had noncompete clauses. I mean, it doesn’t make any sense.
So it’s just a matter of us. We don’t need the Democrats now, we need 218 to pass anything, we got a 222-seat majority, which is slim, but that, in a good way, I think will encourage us to have a budget that we can back up. We didn’t make the changes that the speaker has agreed to. It took a lot of fight and it took a lot of willpower by 20 Americans who I’m proud to serve with to make that happen. And I think it’ll be the results, hopefully, you will see and hopefully we’ll be able to get the 218 to pass it.
Allen: When we think about our future and the next 50 years and where we need to be investing as a country, what are those areas that we need to make sure we’re setting ourselves up for success, both in terms of domestic challenges and those we face abroad. How do we prepare ourselves financially for America’s future to be freer and stronger?
Norman: Our biggest threats are China; our children, the attack on our children, what’s happening in the public schools; and our economy, getting on a firm financial footing. The way you do that is step by step. You put together a budget that has cuts and not just spending, you take ownership in the school systems that’s indoctrinating our children.
This Green New Deal that the president is dropping money that has no accountability for it; ESG that he’s forcing on the businesses, the banks, the environmental, social, governance, has got a price tag to it, instead of in infrastructure. His infrastructure package was anything but that, the Inflation Reduction Act was anything but that. And the American people know that because you buy gas for your car, you buy groceries for your household, and so it’s common sense. But as elected officials, we have to force the issue and we have to not let him get by with just rhetoric, which I think we’ll do.
Allen: In your assessment, we talked about a lot of the issues facing our country, what is the greatest threat to America right now? And are we doing everything that we need to be doing, is the government doing everything it needs to be doing to address that threat adequately?
Norman: Government is the problem. So, I mean, when you have total government control like this administration has proposed over the last two years, since he’s been in office, government control is socialism. It’s letting the government run everything. That’s what they run on, that’s what they agreed to. Why do you think they’re letting everybody in and giving them driver’s licenses in New York City to vote? We just struck down a bill in Washington that would let visitors from other countries vote. And they’re doing it for power, so we got to stop that.
We’re a nation of laws, we got to empower our police; we’re a nation of borders, we got to shut the border down; and we’ve got to get our spending under control. The downside, we lose America, we lose freedom, and we’re not going to let that happen if we have anything to do with it.
I’m very encouraged now because it’s gotten so out of kilter with where the dollars are going. And now, if Americans still say that they don’t want to get involved and it’s not their problem, I would make the argument, “Look what’s happened over the last two years.” If you feel safe when you go out at night in any community in this country, if you like the prices that you’re paying, this didn’t happen two years ago under Trump. And like him or not, he did a lot of great things for the country. We got to take ownership in it, and it all boils back to people, who you put in office, they’re making the decision. And I’m anxious to go to work.
Allen: Congressman, in your home state of South Carolina, what are some of your greatest priorities for your state in this Congress?
Norman: My priority is making sure that South Carolina is a recipient of people that are coming from other states that aren’t like us. Florida is a recipient, what [Gov. Ron] DeSantis has done has been great. What South Carolina’s done is great. We got to make sure that we remain a state that has less taxes, less government, and make it a business-friendly state. We have to make sure that South Carolina doesn’t give its natural resources away. These public-private partnerships, a lot of times, it’s the public that gets hosed and the private sector is the one that makes off. We got to treat South Carolina as the treasure that it is.
We’re 5.3 million people, we’re going to increase because people want to come to what we have to offer, which is good government, for the most part. It’s a state that is rich in being business-friendly to those coming in, but we’ve got to guard that. And we’ve got those in office across the nation that has let California go like they’ve gone, they let [Gov.] Gavin Newsom basically bankrupt that state. But that happens because of who you put in office. We got to keep South Carolina conservative.
Allen: Congressman Ralph Norman, thank you so much for your time today. Really, such a pleasure to have you on the show.
Norman: Appreciate it, Virginia. Thank you.
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