Mr. CORNYN. I agree with the Senator from Kentucky who says this is not a partisan issue. As a matter of fact, back in 1997 a lot of our Democratic colleagues joined Republicans to vote in favor of a balanced budget amendment. If there is an issue that threatens not only the economy but also our national security today more than the national debt, I don't know what it is.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen, said the single largest threat to our national security is the debt. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the debt sends a message of weakness internationally.
I was just over at the Heritage Foundation giving a speech. They are studying the role of China in the world, the rise of China, but particularly what I was concerned about, and the subject of my remarks, was the fact that the Treasury Department estimates that $1.1 trillion of U.S. debt is held by the Communist Chinese Government. That is one-third of all our outstanding debt. We know that at least on one occasion, a retired Chinese general said that if we didn't do what China wanted, they would then threaten to disrupt our economy by selling off the debt they own. So my colleagues may care to comment.
Larry Lindsey, the renowned economist, wrote an article recently where we cited three things that worry him the most about high unemployment and the lassitude of the private sector. He said it is slow economic growth, of course, because many in the private sector are discouraged--the entrepreneurs who create jobs, the job creators who would otherwise expand--and slow economic growth concerns him. I think in the first quarter it was 1.8 of our gross domestic product. It is not enough to generate jobs to get people back to work and one reason for our high unemployment.
He said the other two issues that worry him the most are, one, the interest payments on our national debt. He points out that because of the Federal Reserve policy, the interest rates on our national debt are at below historic norms. He points out, for example, if inflation were to kick in or the Federal Reserve, for some reason, should decide to tighten its policy and raise interest rates, what it would do to balloon the interest payments alone on our national debt in a way that would threaten our ability to fund national defense or other issues as well.
Two, he also points out the exploding costs of the health care bill, with more and more employees incentivized to dump people onto the State-based exchanges subsidized by taxpayers as opposed to their employers.
I wonder if any of my colleagues--I see the Senator from Kentucky--may have some comments about the interest on the debt and what he views as a threat to our economy and our security.