By Senator David Perdue
The Outrage Machine is regular opinion column by voices from the left and right on Washington.
Republican voters have sent the Washington establishment a message in the form of our presidential nominee. It is loud, and it should be clear.
Yet, a small enclave of career politicians within our party is still struggling to understand the mass appeal of Donald Trump. These D.C. insiders are so caught up in the Washington bubble that they failed to realize the world around them has changed.
For too long, career politicians have over promised and under-delivered. The constant gridlock and lack of results in Washington is unacceptable. We have a political system that protects those in power and leaves the American people behind.
Georgians sent a strong message to the establishment in my Senate race by electing an outsider to the political process. We now see that same movement sweeping across the country, and we should welcome it.
Two short years ago, I was an outsider businessman campaigning for the first time and endured some of the same criticisms being leveled against Mr. Trump today. Through my own experience, I probably understand the Trump phenomenon and the new reality of this electorate better than most.
In my race, the establishment types said I wasn’t Republican enough. They warned the party faithful that I hadn’t paid my political dues and that voting for me would be risky. Never mind the fact I had spent my career running major companies and creating jobs, versus running for political office as a full-time job.
People listened when I spoke in business terms out on the campaign trail about the national debt and global security crisis – instead of reciting tired old GOP talking points. Instead of the usual Washington Beltway babble, I spoke plainly to people about their concerns with the economy and jobs, and their frustration with Washington.
The antiquated tactics that were used unsuccessfully against me have been deployed against Mr. Trump, and the voters responded in similar fashion. They ignored the preachy pundits, the ideology police, and the Washington establishment. They chose a different type of candidate because they believe to get different results, you have to send a different type of person to Washington.
Mr. Trump’s nabbing of the presidential nod embodies a dramatic shift in the political paradigm. Many voters are now more motivated by their frustration with Washington than their ideology. As I’ve said all along, this movement is bigger than party or ideology, or even, dare I say, Trump himself. However, I’m not dismissing the incredible skill set our nominee possesses.
Through straightforward, unapologetic criticism of the powers-that-be, Trump has tapped into the anti-Washington sentiment. Anyone who read ‘The Art of the Deal’ shouldn’t be surprised by his technique or his success.
The negotiation strategy outlined by Trump the Dealmaker in his signature book gives key insight into Trump the Campaigner. He is focused on the American people’s shared frustration with politicians, bureaucrats, and the media. He is bold and unpredictable, always keeping the opposition off balance. And he is a master of earned media.
The undeniable talent that Mr. Trump displayed while navigating a massive 17-person primary will become even more evident in a head-to-head matchup this fall. One by one, he picked off the best and brightest the Republican establishment had to offer and motivated more people to go to the polls in the primary.
He is the only true outsider running for president. Now, he can focus on dismantling the Republican Party’s real opponent, Hillary Clinton.
While unpredictability shakes those conditioned to protect their own power, anyone who still has doubts about Mr. Trump should stop agonizing for a minute, take a deep breath, and at least contemplate the value of having such a unique asset at the top of our ticket.
Fortunately for our party, Trump is a nominee unlike anything we have ever seen. Based on everything we’ve witnessed to date, Mr. Trump is not going to walk into the Democrats’ traps or take their bait. He will play his own game, one that he intends to win.
As Republicans, let’s not lose sight of our shared mission to change the direction of our country. That’s why we worked so hard to win the Senate majority in 2014. To affect real change, we must keep the Senate majority and win the White House in November.
Our country simply cannot afford four more years of the liberal, progressive policies that have failed the working middle-class of America. Clinton has committed to doubling down on these failed policies. We certainly cannot withstand losing the Supreme Court for a generation.
We have a unique opportunity to finally change course. It is time for an outsider in the White House. It is time to let Trump be Trump, and to help him win this election.
David Perdue is a Republican senator from Georgia. Elected to the Senate in 2014, he is the only Fortune 500 CEO in Congress and previously served as CEO of Reebok Brand and Dollar General.
Fiscal discipline is impossible when an approved budget can be ignored
By Senator David Perdue and Maya MacGuineas
May 13, 2016
Our country is swimming in a sea of red ink, with annual deficits projected to rise rapidly from $534 billion this year to more than $1.3 trillion by 2026 while our national debt is slated to increase by nearly $10 trillion over the next decade. The longer we wait to fix this problem, the more likely we are to have a debt crisis. In order to get our debt under control and put America back on a path toward fiscal responsibility, one of the first things we must do is change the budget process.
Both parties agree that our current budget process is broken. Controls and deadlines that are built into the process are often ignored, enforcement mechanisms are usually circumvented, and the current budget process wrongly focuses most of the scrutiny on the one-third of spending that is subject to annual appropriations with little to no review of mandatory spending, which is the core driver of our debt.
Furthermore, budget resolutions have all but become pure aspiration with no expectation that the policies will ever be implemented or that tax and spending levels will ever be enforced. There are a couple of ways we can improve the budget process.
First, we should make the budget resolution a law signed by the president. Part of the reason why budget resolutions are routinely ignored is because they don’t have the enforcement power of law. Under the current process, Congress passes a budget without buy-in from the president — leading to ad hoc negotiations on omnibus spending bills at the end of the year.
This is precisely what happened last year when congressional leaders and President Obama waited until the eleventh hour to fund the government, which resulted in a short-term bill that gets us through one more year, instead of a long-term solution that addresses our record-high debt. In reality, we cannot fully achieve fiscal discipline if the approved budget can be ignored when fiscal decisions become too tough or politically motivated.
Second, we must ensure that the budget includes all revenue and spending, including the two-thirds of spending usually ignored in the budget process: mandatory spending and interest on the debt. Many social policies are run through the tax code, and that spending is also not reviewed regularly.
By 2027, all revenue the government collects will go toward interest payments and mandatory spending, which means every dime spent on social programs, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the military will be borrowed, thereby adding to the national debt. The budget process must include a realistic accounting of all government spending so we can fully understand how to fix the fiscal challenges our country faces.
Third, Congress must be held accountable if it fails to responsibly fund the federal government on time. The harsh consequences of sequestration took aim at the military and other essential programs, instead of making smart decisions. Each stage of the funding process should have a firm deadline, met without delay and backed by real consequences for Congress, not the military or the American people.
Finally, the full budget process should be redesigned in a way that allows for better results. The current system does not allow for proper accountability, nor does it ensure that federal funds are allocated appropriately. Additionally, Congress should consider moving the timeline of the fiscal year to match the calendar year. Given November elections every two years, our current fiscal calendar only increases the likelihood of Congress abandoning its primary responsibility. In its current form, the budget process has worked only four times in the last 42 years.
Fixing the budget process is an important first step toward putting our debt on a downward path as a share of the economy. The sooner we do that, the sooner we can begin to make much needed changes to update our inefficient tax code and reduce the unsustainable growth of entitlement spending.
It is time for Washington to be honest with the American people about the realities of our current fiscal situation. Completing a timely budget that funds our nation’s priorities is the primary responsibility of Congress. It should not be an afterthought. Until we fix the way Washington funds the federal government, one thing is clear, the results will not change.
David Perdue is a U.S. senator from Georgia and the only Fortune 500 CEO in Congress. Maya MacGuineas is the president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and head of the Campaign to Fix the Debt.
Written by Senator David Perdue
Last weekend, millions of Americans tuned into the Masters. Knowing his commitment to golf, I’m sure President Obama was one of them.
But President Obama has not mastered the course when it comes to reining in federal spending and getting the national debt under control. If his record of rapidly growing the debt was scored like golf, he would not be a contender for the green jacket.
Let’s tee off:
Hole 1: America’s national debt surpassed $19 trillion this year. It was $10 trillion when President Obama took office. Before he leaves office, he will have added nearly as much debt than all of the other presidents combined.
Hole 2: When all future unfunded liabilities, such as Social Security and Medicare, are factored in, our total burden of debt rises to over $100 trillion.
Hole 3: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) now projects our federal debt will grow to nearly $30 trillion over the next ten years.
Republican Sen. David Perdue talks fiscal responsibility, the economy and being an outsider in Washington.
Sen. David Perdue, a conservative Republican and political newcomer, came from a strong business background to win the first office he ever ran for, that of U.S. senator. He approached his 2014 campaign as an outsider, promising to bring his executive suite experience – as CEO of Dollar General and Reebok – to Washington.
Perdue, a Georgia Tech alum who lives in Glynn County, sits on the Senate’s budget, judiciary, agriculture and foreign relations committees as well as a Special Committee on Aging. As he settled into the second year of his term, the senator talked to Georgia Trend’s Susan Percy from his office in Washington, D.C. Following are edited highlights from the interview.
GT: Tell us about your first year in office.
Perdue: This was all new to me. It was interesting, frustrating at times. I see the dysfunction here very vividly. But on the good side, Republican leadership took over the Senate this year for the first time in quite a while and got back to regular order. We passed a budget that took $7 billion out of the president’s budget. We put several bills on the president’s desk that he vetoed. The Keystone Pipeline – he vetoed that – was clearly a jobs bill. Later in the year, we repealed Obamacare. He vetoed that as well.
GT: You didn’t waste any time introducing some bills of your own.
Perdue: I come from a business point where you have to operate with a sense of urgency to survive. The first week up here, I put in a bill that would require the federal government to develop a balanced budget. I put a FairTax bill in. And maybe most importantly, I put a bill in that would put term limits in the Senate and the House. You can imagine the response that got.
GT: Why is a balanced budget so important?
Perdue: I saw the total dysfunction of the budget process. We pass the budget and still have an authorization process and an appropriation process that did not work last year and pushed us into a year-end grand bargain where all appropriation bills get put together. I voted against that authorization because it added to the debt. This year we’ve got to begin to work diligently to reinvent the budget process so that it begins to work and gives us a way to solve this debt crisis.
GT: Sounds daunting.
Perdue: It is daunting. But the reason you have to go after the budget – we have two crises. One is this global security crisis, and interrelated with that is the debt. The debt crisis has gotten so serious it is jeopardizing our ability to fund our military and defend our country. To get to this debt, one of the first things we have to do is change the budget process, because that is contributory to this buildup of this $19 trillion of debt today – and over $100 trillion of future unfunded liabilities. Fundamentally, it’s $1 million for every family in America.
This quarter point of interest – the interest increase that the Fed [Federal Reserve Bank] put up back in December – equates to almost $50 billion of new interest every single year. If interest rates go back to their 50-year average of just over 5 percent, we’d be paying almost a trillion dollars of interest. That’s just not manageable.
I feel like the budget process needed to get attention. Yes, it’s daunting, but the Budget Act of 1974 created the budget we have today. It’s only worked four times in the last 40 years. While it may be daunting, it’s absolutely necessary to solve that crisis.
GT: What about spending?
Perdue: We have to cut spending. We have several hundred billion dollars of redundant agencies up here. I believe we’ve got to save Social Security and Medicare. Those are the 800-pound gorillas in the room, because those costs explode over the next 10 years.
The Congressional Budget Office just put out their biannual report on the state of the economy. They project we will grow from $19 trillion in debt today to almost $30 trillion over the next 10 years. That’s not manageable. The interest on that alone if we were at a 50-year average is almost $1.5 trillion. It’s unconscionable that we’ve gotten ourselves in this situation.
GT:Those numbers can be hard to grasp. How do you get people to relate?
Perdue: It’s $1 million for every family in America – like your credit card bill that the government has given every single family. When interest rates were zero, nobody was paying attention. If interest rates start growing it will be a front-page conversation, and it won’t go away. If interest rates go up any at all, we won’t be able to pay the interest.
The first six years of this [Obama] administration, we borrowed almost 40 percent of every dollar spent by the federal government. The mandatory expenditures are over 70 percent of total spending.
GT: Can you elaborate?
Perdue: What that means is every dime we spend on the military, every dime we spend on food stamps, every dime we spend on foreign aid – every dime is borrowed. We raised $3.4 trillion in tax revenue last year. I don’t believe we’ve got a revenue problem, I believe we’ve got a spending problem.
GT: Is that coming from your business perspective?
Perdue: Four words we had in business, we’d hear it all the time: We cannot afford it. I haven’t heard that one time in Washington. Those are four words I’m trying to inject into the vocabulary in Washington.
GT: You’ve said our debt affects national security. Would you explain?
Perdue: As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, I traveled internationally extensively last year. I met privately with many heads of states. I had a private one-on-one with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Israel. I talked with many of our military leaders in Afghanistan, Iraq, Asia and the Pacific. These are the conclusions: We have been in a war for almost 14 years. We have used and abused our equipment. We’re about to have, because of cutbacks under this administration, the smallest Army since World War II, the smallest Navy since World War I and the smallest Air Force ever. When you look at our ability to recapitalize and rebuild, there is no money in the budget to do that. Money in the budget right now just basically maintains the status quo. It doesn’t replace a lot of this stuff that’s been used up. We’re also using up our soldiers, with longer assignments, longer offshore duty. I’m really, really concerned about that.
GT: And you see that tied in directly with the debt situation?
Perdue: If you look at what we’re spending on our military today – about $200 million a year less than our average over the last 30 years – that’s significant. The Congressional Budget Office talks about our debt growing to $30 trillion over the next 10 years, assuming further reductions in spending.
Our threats have grown dramatically over the last decade on three levels: China and Russia, and now we have ISIS growing from Indonesia to Algeria. You’ve got this proliferation of nuclear weapon potential in Iran and North Korea that is very concerning.
GT:You campaigned as an outsider. Do you still see yourself that way?
Perdue: By definition, I am an outsider. I’ve committed to only two terms here – I put that term limit bill in. By definition I will always be an outsider in this political process.
GT: Why do you say that?
Perdue: I’m a business guy. My approach is that of a businessperson. I look at what’s the sense of urgency, what are the priorities and what are the results we are trying to get. Washington’s dysfunction is centered around a lack of accountability, a low sense of urgency and really [being] focused more on the process and not on the results. That outside perspective is unusual here, and because of that, on a committee I am able to add value at an early stage with a perspective that is new and different. We only have a handful of people that ever ran a business and only one Fortune 500 CEO in all Congress – and he happens to be from Georgia.
GT: Let’s talk about the economy.
Perdue: To solve the debt crisis, we have to grow the economy. That’s what I hear more than anything else in Georgia. We have a significant number of people who are hurting in Georgia because of the way this administration has taken for granted our free enterprise system. Our tax structure, our regulatory system, is sucking the very life out of our free enterprise system and really damaging our competitiveness around the world.
GT: What do you propose?
Perdue: These are the priorities I see. Our tax structure is archaic. It is manipulated and creates an unbalanced playing field with the rest of the world. Our corporate tax rate is [one of] the highest in the world. We still [have] this ridiculous repatriation tax. [Editor’s Note: a tax imposed on assets held in a foreign country when they are brought back to the U.S.] Fixing those two things immediately and over time talking about how we fund things, changing the way we fund our government. I put a FairTax bill in, and I believe that’s the best way to go. That takes time. Meantime, we need to change our corporate tax rate and eliminate our repatriation tax.
GT: You have been critical of the regulatory environment.
Perdue: Somebody said, “David, what would you go after first?” It doesn’t matter – just pick an acronym up here in Washington and go after it – EPA, NLRB, IRS, CFPB. We have a God-given boom in energy, and yet because of government regulation we are not able to take advantage of that. There’s an energy bill before us now. We passed one last year. There are some encouraging signs; we’re heading in the right direction.
GT: You were on the Georgia Ports Authority board before you ran for the Senate. Would you talk about the Savannah harbor deepening and what it means for the state’s economy?
Perdue: I’m excited to talk about that. The port deepening is the best example I’ve found up here of the dysfunction of the bureaucracy of the federal government. It took 17 years to get the approval to deepen that port five feet. We’re not talking about 25 feet; we’re talking about five feet. That funding has been authorized. The last governor and this governor have set money aside, with the legislature, to take care of that. They are moving forward. It’ll have a dramatic economic impact not only on Georgia, but the entire country because it’s one of the fastest-growing ports in the country and the only port in the country [that] regularly exports more than it imports.
GT: You’ve talked about some big problems that you see. Do you see solutions? Are you optimistic?
Perdue: There’s no question we can solve them. I’m an optimist. Americans have never failed to step up to a crisis in our history. But we’re not always the first to acknowledge that we’re in a crisis. My mission in life is that I’m trying to influence the debate up here in Congress and in the presidential election to get people to talk about these two areas of crisis. The global security and the national security crisis – people get that. But the connecting issues of this debt crisis [and] the ability to defend ourselves is not immediately clear. That’s my role right now, being an outsider and having a business background.
I’m optimistic. I’m sobered by the responsibility, but daunting as it is, we don’t have a choice. We have to solve [them].
GT: One final question: You blocked the appointment of a conservative Georgia Republican, DeKalb County’s Judge Dax Lopez, a former member of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, whom President Obama had nominated for a federal judgeship. Why?
Perdue: We’ve considered many nominees to the judiciary in the last year. It’s one of the most important things I do on the Judiciary Committee. In this instance, I looked at the information that was supplied to us by the White House and Department of Justice, and I had interviewed this candidate. I was not confident that this [his appointment] was the right thing to do. I have to protect the process and have to protect the Constitution relative to the people we put on the bench in a lifetime appointment. I think Judge Lopez has done a great job as a judge in the state. I have nothing negative to say about that. In our meeting, and in looking at the record, I still had several concerns [and] could not support naming him to a lifetime position on the federal bench.
Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution is clear.
The president may nominate judges to the Supreme Court, but the power to grant, or withhold, consent rests exclusively with the Senate.
Nowhere does it say the Senate must hold hearings or votes. In fact, senators and appointees of both parties have said this for years, regardless of who was in charge.
In 2005, Minority Leader Harry Reid said, “Nowhere in the Constitution does it say the Senate has a duty to give presidential appointees a vote.”
Three years prior, in 2002, former Chief Judge of the D.C. Circuit Abner Mikva — a Carter appointee — said that “the Senate should not act on any Supreme Court vacancies that might occur until after the next presidential election.”
Preceding Judge Mikva’s comments, Vice President Joe Biden, the former Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, made a similar argument in 1992 when he said, “Once the political season is underway, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over. That is what is fair to the nominee and is central to the process.”
Senator Reid, Judge Mikva, and Vice President Biden were right then. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and my Republican colleagues are right now.
Despite Democrats previously making these exact same points, we are hearing them now tell us to do our job.
I respectfully say we are doing our job.
The balance of our nation’s highest court is in jeopardy, and we must ensure this balance remains as a check against efforts by the government to bypass the will of the people. This is about the principle, not the individual.
As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I believe we must allow the American people to have a voice in this process. The upcoming presidential election will not only determine the direction of our country, but also serve as a referendum on the presidency, Congress, and now the Supreme Court.
In fact, not since 1932 has the Senate confirmed a Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election-year to a vacancy arising in that year. And, not since 1888 was someone both nominated and confirmed under divided government, as we have now.
The responsible course of action is to avoid the political theater and allow the American people to decide.
U.S. Senator David Perdue is the junior senator from Georgia and serves on the Senate Budget, Foreign Relations, Agriculture, and Judiciary Committees. Previously, Senator Perdue was the CEO of Reebok Brand and Dollar General. Senator Perdue is currently the only Fortune 500 CEO serving in the United States Senate.
I stand firm in my belief that our veterans deserve the best we have to offer. They risked their lives to ensure the safety of ours. We must provide our best resources to these honorable men and women. To all of the veterans, thank you for your commendable service and dedication to our country. You will always have my full support.
Written by Senator David Perdue
The Washington political establishment has hit the panic button. Not because they are afraid of any one individual or candidate, but because they are afraid of losing their own political power.
This town is filled with well intentioned people who believe they are doing the right thing, but far too many have lost their way after years in Washington. Politicians pay more attention to special interests groups and powerful lobbyists writing checks to their next campaigns than listening to the people back home who sent them here in the first place.
This dangerous power vacuum has fueled frustration and created an entirely new breed of disenfranchised voters who are fed up with the status quo. These are real people, their anger is palpable, and it’s not going away anytime soon.
A recent survey of likely Republican primary voters showed that 86 percent believe that “people like me don’t have any say about what the government does.” Another recent exit poll in my home state of Georgia showed that six in ten Republicans felt “betrayed” by their political party.
This sentiment is something I heard countless times during my campaign for the United States Senate just over a short year ago. It is what pulled me to get involved personally to try and make a difference. But this is not just happening in Georgia. People across America are angry, frustrated, and scared because they feel as though Washington is not listening to them.
A growing number of Americans are more motivated by this feeling of frustration than any individual political ideology. The rise of career politicians has completely shifted the political paradigm from just liberal versus conservative. There is now a disconnect between the Washington political class and everybody else—the insiders versus the outsiders.
When most Americans look at the federal government, all they see is years of failed policies that have made life harder for them and their families, and a political class that is well connected and uninterested in giving them a say in how to right the ship.
People are still hurting, and they are weary of Washington’s penchant for business as usual. Georgians sent me—someone who had never run for elected office—to the United States Senate to try and do something about it and change the system. In state after state this year, voters have voiced support for presidential candidates who are not part of the political class.
This is a growing movement, and it is bigger than any one candidate or election victory. Unless the political establishment is willing to learn from the anger felt by millions of Americans who feel left behind, this will not end in November.
True to form, though, political elites prefer tearing down individuals to understanding what created this movement. This movement of Americans wants nothing to do with Washington, and neither endorsements nor criticisms are going to change that.
No matter who our Republican presidential nominee is at the end of this process, one thing is clear: We cannot allow Democrats to double down on the failed policies of the last seven years.
A better course of action would be a candid examination of what can be done to regain the trust of the American people. Let’s start with simply listening to them.
This week’s incident of Iran test-firing ballistic missiles with the words, “Israel should be wiped from the pages of history, ” clearly proves that Iran cannot be trusted. There is no telling what this rogue regime might do next. Join me and stand with our ally Israel.
Our national security is at risk. The release of dangerous GITMO detainees will be detrimental to the safety of Americans. This is evident from Tuesday’s arrest of a former detainee who is claimed to have ties with ISIS. Washington cannot put the fate of our nation in jeopardy. Keep the terrorists where they belong. Stand with me to stop the transfer or release of terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay into the United States.