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Luke M.
Republican IN 6

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  • Requirement in Budget Submission With Respect to the Cost Per Taxpayer of the Deficit

    by Representative Luke Messer

    Posted on 2013-03-05

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    MESSER. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 668) to amend section 1105(a) of title 31, United States Code, to require that annual budget submissions of the President to Congress provide an estimate of the cost per taxpayer of the deficit, and for other purposes.

    The Clerk read the title of the bill.

    The text of the bill is as follows: H.R. 668 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. REQUIREMENT IN BUDGET SUBMISSION WITH RESPECT TO THE COST PER TAXPAYER OF THE DEFICIT.

    Section 1105(a) of title 31, United States Code, is amended-- (1) redesignating paragraph (37) (relating to the list of outdated or duplicative plans and reports) as paragraph (39); and (2) by adding at the end the following: [[Page H959]] ``(40) in the case of a fiscal year in which the budget is projected to result in a deficit, an estimate of the pro rata cost of such deficit for taxpayers who will file individual income tax returns for taxable years ending during such fiscal year.''.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Messer) and the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Van Hollen) each will control 20 minutes.

    The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Indiana.

    General Leave Mr. MESSER. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on H.R. 668, currently under consideration.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Indiana? There was no objection.

    Mr. MESSER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    First, I want to thank Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen for allowing the House to consider this measure, which will require the President's annual budget submission to Congress to include the cost per taxpayer of the deficit for each year the budget is projected to result in a deficit.

    This bill is based on one simple principle: that each hardworking American taxpayer deserves to know how much the deficit costs them each year. This requirement would be a powerful reminder to the President and Congress that our decisions have real-world consequences for hardworking taxpayers.

    It's long past time to hold Washington accountable for its wasteful spending. The massive national debt has ballooned to an unsustainable level because Washington has refused to make tough choices, instead, simply spending money we don't have and ignoring the explosive growth of entitlements. This abdication of responsibility is delaying the inevitable until there may not be any good choices left.

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

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

    As one of the earlier speakers said during the 1 minutes, this bill simply requires a math calculation, and we have absolutely no objection to doing that. As the gentleman may know, about a month ago we passed an amendment that did virtually the same thing.

    I do wonder why it is we think the President is better with a calculator than Congress. Because what this does require simply is that you take the deficit and you divide it by the number of taxpayers. But we're certainly fine to have transparency and have the President put that in his budget as part of his submission as well.

    Our concern is that this really doesn't address the fundamental question that we're facing here in the Congress: number one, making sure we get the economy kicked into full gear, and jobs; and, number two, reducing the deficit in a smart and balanced way over a period of time so that we're not balancing the budget on the backs of our seniors, that we're not violating commitments we've made to our seniors, that we're not cutting into education funding for our kids-- which is important to making sure that the economy grows and that they have opportunities in their lives--and that we do that in a smart way that doesn't, in the process, result in fewer American jobs.

    So the real number we should be focused on here today is 750,000, because 750,000 is the number of jobs that the independent, nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says will be lost so long as the sequester that began March 1 remains in place through the end of this year.

    So let me say that again. So long as the sequester that started on March 1 remains in place through the end of the calendar year, the independent, nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that we will have 750,000 fewer American jobs. That's not President Obama's number; it's not my number; it's an independent number.

    The Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, was on the Hill testifying just last week and made similar predictions. They have both--both the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, as well as the Congressional Budget Office--said that our economic growth between now and the end of the year will be reduced by a full one-third if the sequester remains in place. So that's what this House should be doing.

    Today, a little later today, for the fourth time this year--for the fourth time this year, Mr. Speaker--I will go, on behalf of my colleagues in the Democratic Caucus, to the Rules Committee and ask for the opportunity to vote on a piece of legislation that would replace that sequester in a smart and balanced way and in a way that doesn't result in 750,000 fewer American jobs.

    {time} 1240 Now, you would think our colleagues would want to vote on something like that instead of voting on a bill that just requires a math calculation--which is fine--but it doesn't do anything about jobs, and it doesn't actually do anything to reduce the deficit. But we've not been given that opportunity.

    So I would just ask my colleagues: Why is it so important to bring a bill to the floor that asks the President to do another math calculation--which we all can support--and not bring to the floor of the House a bill that actually would prevent the loss of 750,000 jobs and present a balanced plan to reducing the deficit in a way that doesn't harm the economy? That really is the question here today, Mr. Speaker, and maybe at some point we'll get an answer. And maybe this House will live up to its promise of being the people's House and a transparent House, and we'll actually get a vote on our fourth request. I'm not holding my breath, but it would be nice if those commitments would be kept, as well.

    I reserve the balance of my time.

    Mr. MESSER. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate Representative Van Hollen and his comments. As he well knows, this Chamber has twice considered sequester replacement bills put forward by the House Republican leadership, voted on and passed out of this Chamber.

    The alternatives are clear. I appreciate his recognition that this simple little calculation, while admittedly not going to change the planet Earth, it is important in providing budget transparency and helping the American taxpayer understand how much money we're spending here.

    We often hear, as you're out in townhall meetings, How much is $1 trillion? And what this bill simply shows is that if you take $1 trillion, if that's the deficit in a given year, and divide it by 145 million taxpayers we have, it adds up to about $6,800 per taxpayer that we are adding to our debt every year.

    Back where I come from in Indiana's Sixth Congressional District, that's a lot of money. He cited the number 750,000, and I would concede that $85 billion is a lot of money; but it represents about 2 percent of what we spend as a Nation every year in our $3.6 billion budget.

    I came to the House floor yesterday and held up two pennies representing the two cents--the two percent--the two cents out of every dollar that we're asking Congress to trim out of our Federal budget. Does anybody in America really believe that our Federal Government is so efficient and so effective that we can't afford to trim two cents out of every dollar? Now, clearly, we can do this in a more sensible way. I know of no one in either Chamber who is not arguing that we ought to find a more sensible way to bring these reductions forward, but bring them forward we must.

    Now, with that, Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the distinguished gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Garrett).

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