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Chris V.
Democrat MD 8

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  • Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2014

    by Representative Chris Van Hollen

    Posted on 2013-03-19

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    VAN HOLLEN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    Last fall throughout this country, we had a vigorous debate. President Obama laid out his vision of how we deal with some of our big challenges with respect to the economy and the budget, and Governor Romney did the same thing. Both of them said the American people face a very important and fundamental choice, and the American people chose.

    They chose to support President Obama's vision of accelerating economic growth, putting more people to work, taking a shared- responsibility approach to our long-term deficits so we bring them down in a balanced and smart way, and they rejected the idea that we're going to move the economy forward by giving windfall tax cuts to the very wealthiest in the country and that somehow the benefits of that would trickle down and lift everybody up. They rejected that lopsided approach that balanced the budgets on the backs of everybody but the folks at the very top. It balanced the budget on the backs of our kids' education by slashing important investments.

    In that category of spending that we make these important investments for our country and our future, they doubled the cut from the sequester. Those are investments in our kids' education. Those are investments in science and research to help power our economy. Those are investments to help modernize our infrastructure. They cut transportation by 15 percent when we have 15 percent unemployment in the construction industry.

    Mr. Chairman, the American people rejected the kind of uncompromising, lopsided approach that we see once again presented here in the House. It is the same thing we've seen for the last 3 years, as if we hadn't even had a debate last fall.

    In the Democratic alternative, we focus on the main issue right now and in the future. We don't only want strong economic growth in the future; we want to see accelerated job growth right now. We've seen some momentum in the jobs market in the last couple of months, but the Republican budget will put the brakes on that growth.

    The chairman of the Budget Committee can quote economists all he wants. There are economists that say it will do this or it won't do this or it will do that. But we have an umpire here in the Congress. We have a referee. It's called the Congressional Budget Office. They're nonpartisan. They're independent.

    They tell us if you follow the approach of the Republican budget and keep the sequester in place through the end of this year, that by the end of this year we will have 750,000 fewer Americans working than otherwise. Why would we want to do that? They tell us that if you take the approach followed by the Republican budget, that economic growth this calendar year will be cut by one- third. Why would we want to do that? The Congressional Budget Office also tell us that a full half of our deficit this year is as a result of the fact that there are still lots of people looking for work who haven't found a job, and they project that three-quarters of the deficit next year in 2014 is as a result of [[Page H1599]] the fact that you have too many people who are unemployed. So let's attack the root of the problem right now and help put people back to work rather than put the brakes on the economy. That's what our budget will do.

    This calendar year, in addition to preventing the 750,000 lost, we will generate another 450,000 jobs by investing in the economy. Next year, the difference between our plan and our colleagues' plan is 2 million more jobs under our budget proposal.

    We believe that you've got to deal with the budget deficit, and at the same time you also need to focus on the jobs deficit to help deal with the budget deficit.

    We also reduce the deficit in a steady, sustained way. We do it with balance. We do it with targeted cuts. But we also do it, Mr. Chairman, by eliminating some of the tax breaks and tax expenditures for very high-income individuals.

    We heard from Governor Romney and we heard from the chairman of the Budget Committee last fall and this year that there are trillions of dollars of tax expenditures that disproportionately benefit very wealthy people. Under the Republican plan, they say we're going to get rid of some of your tax expenditures for high-income people, but we're going to bring down your top rate. So in the end, the folks at the very top actually get a big windfall.

    We say let's eliminate some of those tax breaks for very wealthy people in order to help reduce our deficit so when you combine that savings with targeted cuts, you can reduce it in a balanced way rather than increasing the tax burden on the middle class, which is what their budget will do.

    We also want to make sure we keep our commitments to our seniors and not transfer the risk and cost of rising health care costs onto the backs of seniors as the Republican budget does.

    We don't reopen the prescription drug doughnut hole, as the Republican budget does, which means that seniors with high prescription drug costs will end up paying thousands more out of pocket over the period of this budget.

    In our budget, we make sure that student loan interest rates, which are set to double in July from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, we make sure they don't double. The Republican budget makes sure that they do. That will make college less affordable to millions of students.

    Mr. Chairman, let me conclude by talking about the deficit impacts because the Republican budget does hit this--they say they're going to hit this political target of balance in 10 years. But it's a hoax because they say at the same time that their budget balances, that they're repealing all of ObamaCare, all of the Affordable Care Act.

    The reality, Mr. Chairman, is they get rid of all the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. So the millions of Americans who would have had more affordable coverage, they won't get it; and the people who will no longer be excluded from getting coverage because of preexisting conditions, they'll make sure that they're denied coverage because of preexisting conditions because they take away the benefits.

    But the dirty little secret, Mr. Chairman, is they keep the savings from the Affordable Care Act, from ObamaCare. Without those savings, that budget doesn't balance.

    So if we did what our Republican colleagues here say they want to do, which is this instant--repeal ObamaCare--they wouldn't have a budget that was in balance. You don't have to take my word for it. The Heritage Foundation, a very conservative think tank, just issued this statement: ``Perhaps the biggest shortcoming of this budget''--meaning the Republican budget--``is that it keeps the tax increases associated with ObamaCare.'' It keeps those.

    It keeps all the savings in Medicare that were achieved as part of the Affordable Care Act where we achieved them by reducing the overpayments to the private insurance companies by changing the incentive structure to focus more on the quality of care rather than the quantity of care.

    {time} 1630 Do you remember all those Medicare savings that we heard our colleagues demagog in the last election last fall? They keep all those savings, and their balance wouldn't balance without them.

    Our budget dramatically cuts the deficit and makes sure that our deficits are not growing faster than the economy, down to 2.4 percent by the end of the window. We stabilize the debt below where the CBO projects today, we stabilize 70 percent GDP. And, yes, we also will balance our budget in the same year that the Republican budget from last year balanced.

    If this were just a race to balance the budget first, then people should vote for the Republican study group proposal--4 years. But if your priority is jobs and economic growth, as it should be as part of a measured and balanced approach to reducing the deficit, then you need to support the Democratic alternative.

    Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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