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Tom P.
Republican GA 6

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  • Require Presidential Leadership and No Deficit Act

    by Representative Tom Price

    Posted on 2013-02-05

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    PRICE of Georgia. At this point, I reserve the balance of my time.

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

    I just have to say to my colleagues that, in looking at this bill, it represents exactly what the American people hate most about this body and this Congress. It's a political gimmick that does absolutely nothing to help create jobs. It does nothing to help boost economic growth. If you read the bill, it is another finger-pointing exercise: blaming the President for the late submission of the 2014 budget and demanding not that the President submit a budget--the President is going to submit a budget--but that he submit it in a form dictated by House Republicans rather than dictated by current law.

    Now, our Republican colleagues know very well why the President's 2014 budget is late. It's late because we had a big debate in this country over how to avoid the fiscal cliff, and it wasn't until January 2 that this House and the Senate were able to resolve that issue. If we'd gone over the fiscal cliff, it would have created huge economic problems. It would have created a huge contraction. It would have created a huge loss of jobs.

    Now, even though a majority of Republican Senators voted for the agreement to prevent us from going over that fiscal cliff, our House Republican colleagues argued against it and against it, and at the end of the day, they were prepared to let the economy go over that cliff in order to protect tax breaks for very wealthy people. A great majority of our Republican colleagues here in the House voted against that fiscal agreement, but we got it done despite that fact. As a result, the economy has continued to move. Now we need to work to make it move faster, but this bill does absolutely nothing to help do that. That's why the budget is a little late, because most Americans know that, unless you know both what your expenditures are going to be and your revenues, you can't submit a budget, and we didn't know until January 2 what the revenue number would be going forward.

    By the way, Mr. Chairman, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the nonpartisan Joint Tax Committee have also been delayed in presenting their backgrounds, which have just come out today but were delayed from when they had planned to do it, and it was because of that very reason.

    What's really a shame is that here we are on the floor of the House, debating this gimmick, when we should be doing things to help the economy and help grow jobs. On March 1, less than 1 month from today, we're going to see these automatic across-the-board, meat-ax cuts take place to both defense and non-defense. Now, those across-the-board cuts are going to do great damage to jobs and the economy.

    You don't have to take my word for it. Here are the words of the Republican House leader, Mr. Cantor, just a few months ago: ``Under the sequester, unemployment would soar from its current level up to 9 percent, setting back any progress the economy has made.'' According to a study which he referred to, ``The jobs of more than 200,000 Virginians in my home State are on the line.'' And that's just jobs in Virginia. He was just talking about jobs lost from the defense cuts. If we don't act to replace the sequester, you're going to see jobs lost around the country. In fact, we're already seeing what would happen from even the threat of the sequester, because, in the last quarter, we saw the economy slowing. Many analysts have said it's because of the fear of these across-the-board cuts--and not just many analysts. The Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Mr. McKeon, said this in referring to the last quarter economic report: ``This is just the first indicator of the extraordinary economic damage defense cuts will do.'' Mr. McKeon is right. So why are we spending our time today on a bill that doesn't address that at all? We have not in this Congress, the 113th Congress, had any debate on any measure to replace the sequester--our Republican colleagues haven't brought that to the floor--but it gets worse. Even though our Republican colleagues haven't brought their proposal to the floor of this House to replace the sequester in this Congress, we presented an alternative to the Rules Committee to replace the sequester and to do it in a balanced way, and we were denied an opportunity to have an up- or-down vote here in this Chamber today on that proposal to replace the sequester for the remainder of this fiscal year so that we would avoid those across-the-board, meat-ax cuts and avoid the job losses that both Mr. Cantor and Mr. McKeon talked about.

    We had a proposal to avoid all that--not even a vote today--and we proposed to do it in a balanced way, Mr. Chairman: to make some cuts to some of the big agriculture subsidies' direct payments, also with some revenue by closing taxpayer breaks for the big oil companies. Our Republican colleagues continue to stick to the position that they won't close one special interest tax break for the purpose of reducing the deficit, not one. They conceded in the last election that very wealthy individuals benefit from those tax breaks disproportionately, but they don't want to eliminate one of them for the purpose of reducing the deficit in a balanced way, combined with additional spending cuts, which is what our substitute amendment would do. It's important for the people to know that we didn't have a chance to vote on it.

    So, Mr. Chairman, it's a sad reflection on this body that we are here debating a meaningless political action and ignoring the real work of the American people in this country to deal with the sequester in a balanced way and to prevent the job losses which Republican Members of this Congress have themselves said are on the horizon if we don't take that action.

    I reserve the balance of my time.

    {time} 1500 Mr. PRICE of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    Mr. Chairman, my colleague from Maryland makes some interesting points. The problem with many of them is that they simply aren't true.

    For example, the Congressional Budget Office gave their report on the economic situation today, and they have met their deadline, so contrary to what the gentleman from Maryland said.

    The gentleman also knows that the amendment that he offered, that he just cited that wasn't to be made in order, was not germane. The rules of the House precluded that.

    [[Page H366]] And then he spent the majority of his time, Mr. Chairman, talking about the sequester, which is an important issue, there's no doubt about it, but it's not this issue. In fact, House Republicans passed a reconciliation bill last year that outlined the spending priorities that we would have, the spending reduction priorities that we would place in place of the sequester, and that sat over in the Senate. So the ball is in the Senate's court, the ball is in the President's court.

    Today we're talking about H.R. 444, which is a bill that simply says to the President, Mr. President, when you submit your budget, just let us know when it balances--10 years, 20 years, 40 years, 75 years. When does is it balance? Just be honest and transparent with the American people.

    Mr. Chairman, as you know, we are the minority party here in Washington. Yes, we have the majority in the House, but we don't have the majority in the Senate. We certainly don't control the White House. One of the roles of the minority is to provide accountability to the other side and to provide a contrast.

    Well, as Mr. Ryan said in his opening remarks, it's tough to have a contrast when you have specific legislation and you're comparing it to a speech. It doesn't work. The American people can't tell who's telling the truth and whose policies they would prefer. That's why we believe it's imperative--in fact, it's the only fair thing to do--to have the President, when he submits his budget, to say, in fact, this is when it balances.

    And it's instructive to know, Mr. Chairman, as you well know, that the past four budgets that the President has proposed have never come to balance, never. That's important information, Mr. Chairman. It's time for the President to admit that.

    So the record of the President isn't great, as you well know, on this: $6 trillion of new debt on his watch, 4 straight years of trillion-dollar-plus annual deficits, more borrowing, more spending, more debt, more dreams crushed.

    House Republicans have done our job. We put forward two budgets over the past 2 years when we've been in the majority in which we have said this is exactly how we would reform, save, strengthen, and secure the programs that are so necessary for this country, but also how we would get this country on a path to balance, not for balance's sake, but because families do it, businesses do it, and economies that don't demonstrate balance cannot be vibrant, cannot create jobs, cannot allow individuals to realize their dreams. So, Mr. Chairman, H.R. 444 is a commonsense piece of legislation.

    The gentleman from Maryland talked a lot about what the American people want. The polling industry, just earlier last month, said 72 percent of the Americans say that reducing the budget deficit is a, quote, top priority for the President and the Congress this year. It should be. Seventy-two percent.

    Mr. Chairman, we're on the side of the American people. It's time for the President to show us a budget that balances or to state simply when his budget balances.

    With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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

    There's no doubt that it's a priority of the American people, 72 percent of the American people, to reduce the deficit. We need to reduce the deficit.

    In fact, in the last election, both candidates talked about their plans for how to reduce that deficit in a smart and measured way. The American people spoke, and they said they preferred the balanced approach that the President has laid out that includes a combination of cuts. And, by the way, we did more than $1.5 trillion of cuts through the combination of the Budget Control Act and the supplementals in the last 2 or 3 years. We've already done that. We need to keep making more cuts. And, in fact, our substitute proposal includes additional cuts.

    But in the last election, the American people also said that we should close some of these tax breaks for special interests and very wealthy people. And yet our Republican colleagues have taken the position, the ironclad position, that you can't close or eliminate one of those tax breaks that their Presidential candidate and Vice Presidential candidate talked about if you want to use that for the purpose of reducing the deficit. You can't do it.

    So, yes, we need to reduce the deficit. The President has a plan to do it. He just doesn't do it the way our Republican colleagues would do it, which is by whacking Social Security and Medicaid, and by shortchanging important investments in our education and in our kids' future.

    So, yes, reduce the deficit, but let's do it in a sensible way. And the President has the prerogative of getting to put forward his budget the way he would like to present it to Congress, and then Congress can do its work however it wants.

    With that, I yield 4 minutes to my friend and colleague from Maryland, and someone who has been very focused on reducing our deficits in a responsible way, Mr. Hoyer.

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