The President’s Budgetby Senator Daniel Coats
Posted on 2015-02-04
COATS. Mr. President, I wish to make some remarks about the
President's budget, which was presented to us on Monday of this week as
his annual proposal to Congress.
Given our country's enormous fiscal challenges and the results of the 2014 midterm election, I think there was hope among many of us that the release of this budget would be an opportunity for the President to work with us.
There was a lot of talk about working with Congress, working together. The message from the November 2014 election was that the American people want Congress to get some things done. And by the way, what about the continuing deficit? Are we going to get back to this draconian knife held over our throats, where the budget continues to put us in a position where debt and deficit continue to be the plague which is going to have enormous, negative consequences on the future of this country? Given these enormous challenges, there was really hope the President with his last 2 years, would see as part of his legacy an opportunity to work together to put us on a sound fiscal path. But much like the coach of the Seahawks on the 1-yard line, the President chose to make the wrong call.
In this case, in my opinion--and I think the opinion of many--the right call would have been a plan that actually puts us on a path for a balanced budget, addresses a skyrocketing mandatory spending burden and reforms our outdated Tax Code. These are, hopefully, ideas that both Republicans and Democrats could agree on. They would be in our national interest to move forward on. The time is now--with a Democratic President and a Republican Congress--to work together to achieve what Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill agreed to and what Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich agreed to on welfare reform and on a number of other major initiatives that had been undertaken in Congress with support from both parties. They could be addressed.
But instead of pursuing a path of consensus on these issues, the President comes forward with $2.1 trillion in additional tax increases over the next 10 years. Is there any end to the obsession the President has for raising taxes on the American people? All the debate at the end of the last cycle--the previous cycle before the last cycle--was over the fiscal cliff. Let's raise taxes on the richest people in America and the high earners, and that will address the problem of taxes. But we never could get to the spending issue.
So if you like government to just keep increasing: Send your tax dollars [[Page S760]] to Washington, and we will spend it. That seems to be what the President had to say. Rather than looking at the dire consequences of not addressing these long-term problems, the President proposes to spend nearly $4 trillion in fiscal year 2016, a 7-percent increase from fiscal year 2015 and about $1 trillion more than what was spent in 2008. The President wants to eliminate the very budget caps that his administration proposed and he signed into law in 2011.
Well, it may be one thing to adjust those budget caps, particularly as it impacts our national defense and national security, but if that was done in conjunction with a larger proposal to address this out-of- control mandatory spending, wasteful spending, and unnecessary spending that is taking place here in Washington, that would be one thing to consider.
But this simply is just more of the same, going in the same direction, proposing unbalanced budgets each year, and adding more and more to our deficit and to our debt.
The President likes to talk about his veto pen and, with the release of this budget, we can only conclude that pen only contains red ink. The President has taken a pass on the golden opportunity to move forward and work together. Instead, his budget takes us in the same direction we have been going in the past 6 years without any proposal to address it in any kind of serious way. I think it is imperative that we do that.
Just last week, the Congressional Budget Office released its latest economic report and the findings were, once again, very sobering. This nonpartisan report warned that under current law our ``large and growing federal debt would have serious negative consequences, including increasing federal spending for interest payments; restraining economic growth in the long term; giving policymakers less flexibility to respond to unexpected challenges; and eventually heightening the risk of a fiscal crisis.'' The CBO projects that the gross Federal debt is expected to raise another $10 trillion over the next decade. The report also says that we will spend down almost $800 billion of the Social Security Trust Fund over the next 10 years.
Ten years from now, it is projected that spending on mandatory programs and interest on the debt will consume almost 94 percent of all Federal revenues, leaving far fewer funds for other important national priorities, such as strengthening our infrastructure, national defense, medical research, education, and any number of issues that could be dealt with on a national basis that would affect the future of this country. But it will not be able to be done because we have not taken these steps. Time is running out to make the tough fiscal choices now so future generations will not be saddled with an even higher burden of debt.
I regret the President has yet to come forward with the serious intent of working with us to deal with one of our country's most challenging and most pressing problems with creative solutions. We will only be able to accomplish the results we need if we work together, as the President has said. But it takes his engagement if we are going to succeed.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Virginia.