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Chris V.
Democrat MD 8

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

    by Representative Chris Van Hollen

    Posted on 2013-03-05

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    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.

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