Representative Jeb Hensarling

“What I do believe we will hear from each of our witnesses is that America at least does indeed face a legitimate debt crisis. Not only are we operating on borrowed money, we are operating on borrowed time as well. In that vein, I never tire of reminding not only myself but the public and my colleagues that although we have a statutory goal to reduce the growth of the deficit over ten years by $1.5 trillion, backed up by a $1.2 trillion sequester should we fail, more importantly we have a statutory duty to proffer legislation that would significantly improve the nation?s long term fiscal balance.

“What could not be clearer is that unless we offer fundamental and structural reforms to our nation?s entitlement programs, especially health care, we will not only end up failing in our duty, we may fail our nation as well. Health care costs measured by GDP roughly have doubled since the time of my birth until I entered the workforce and have risen about two-thirds since then, and are growing at what all acknowledge to be an unsustainable rate. Every agency and think tank I am aware of, every academic study, shows that Medicare will go broke in 9-13 years.

“The president himself has said that, „the major driver of our long term liabilities, everybody here knows it, are Medicare and Medicaid, and our healthcare spending, nothing comes close.? I continue to agree with the president. Unfortunately, Social Security faces its problems as well, my children will likely put more money into Social Security than they take out; at best generational unfairness, at worst a form of generational theft.

“We have previously heard from the Congressional Budget Office that tax revenues upon the recovery of this economy will once again produce roughly 18.5 percent of GDP, we also know that there are many tax increases already built into current law. But spending, principally driven by our health care and retirement programs, is due to roughly double in size to 40 percent of GDP over the course of a generation from where it was just a few short years ago.

“Certainly we cannot tax our way out of this crisis, we cannot solve it by simply tinkering around the edges of our entitlement programs. For the sake of our economy, our jobs, our national security, and our children?s future, many people say it is time to „go big.? I agree, but „going big? is not merely measured by slowing the rate of growth of the deficit over the next ten years. „Going big? must be measured in solving the problem—in other words, fundamental and structural reforms of our entitlement programs, giving every American the opportunity for quality healthcare and quality retirement security at a cost that does not harm our jobs and diminish our children?s future.”