A picture of Representative Hakeem S. Jeffries
Hakeem J.
Democrat NY 8

About Rep. Hakeem
  • In Support of the President’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget

    by Representative Hakeem S. Jeffries

    Posted on 2015-02-04

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    JEFFRIES. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in full support of President Obama's fiscal year 2016 budget.

    It is a budget that is firmly rooted in middle class economics, designed to benefit working families and middle-income Americans. It is a budget that will facilitate access to quality, affordable child care and will dramatically expand prekindergarten education in a way that will allow the children of middle class Americans to get off to a faster start in life.

    President Obama's budget, with the full support of House Democrats, will also address wage stagnation. It is designed to put more income-- more money--in the pockets of middle class Americans and of those who aspire to be part of the middle class. It will address the fact that, since the early 1970s, the productivity of the American worker has increased consistently, yet middle class wages have remained stagnant. That is a systematic problem that President Obama, Leader Pelosi, and House Democrats are determined to address on behalf of the middle class.

    President Obama's budget is also designed to increase the affordability of a college education. We know that Americans right now are burdened with more than $1 trillion in student loan debt. That type of debt limits the ability of younger Americans to purchase a home, to start a family, to open up a new business, to take a chance. It limits their ability to robustly access the American Dream. President Obama's budget is designed to allow the sons and daughters of the middle class to pursue their dreams in a more meaningful fashion.

    When President Obama took office, he inherited an economic train wreck as a result of the Great Recession that was handed to him by the policies of the previous Republican administration. Through the leadership of President Obama, working closely with Democrats in the House and the Senate, we have turned the economy around. We have gotten it back on the right track.

    So the question that we in this Congress face today is: Will we continue the policies of middle class economics, which are designed to benefit working families and moderate income Americans, or are we going to regress to the policies of trickle-down economics, which have failed middle class Americans time and time again? I am in my second term. When I first got to the Congress, I assumed that trickle-down economics was dead, doomed by the fact that it has failed over and over again. Apparently, it has been revived.

    In its most recent incarnation, House Republicans would like to drop the top tax rate from 39.6 percent on the wealthiest Americans all the way down to 25 percent. Their argument is: ``Don't worry, everybody is going to benefit.'' But that hasn't worked in the past. In fact, I am convinced that middle class economics is far more preferable to trickle-down economics, which, as it relates to the middle class, simply means you may be lucky to get a trickle, but you are guaranteed to stay down. That is what the record says.

    Bill Clinton inherited a recession. The top tax rate on high-income earners was 31 percent. He raised it to 39.6 percent, and the purveyors of trickle-down economics predicted economic doom and gloom. What happened when President Clinton focused on the middle class? More than 20 million jobs were created. He then handed over a budget surplus to President Bush and his coconspirators in the Congress, and like drunken sailors, they blew that budget surplus on failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and on a tax cut that disproportionately benefited the wealthy and the well off. Did trickle-down economics work when they dropped the top tax rate to 35 percent? No. During the Bush Presidency, 650,000-plus jobs were lost.

    President Obama inherited this economic mess, and in partnership with Democrats in the House and in the Senate, he renewed his focus on the middle class. He even raised the top tax rate back up to 39.6 percent. Doom and gloom was predicted, but what happened? The economy is humming. The stock market is way up. Gas prices are way down. The unemployment rate has come down. Economic growth is exceeding all of the competitors across the world.

    There is more to be done, but for us to be successful, we have got to abandon the focus on the wealthy and the well off and pursue middle class economics.


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