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John T.
Republican SD

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  • The President’s Budget

    by Senator John Thune

    Posted on 2015-02-03

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    THUNE. Mr. President, yesterday the President of the United States released his budget. Unfortunately, it looks like the same old failed, top-down policies of the past. It is a government-knows-best approach that clings to more taxes, more spending, and bigger government. And it is exactly what the American people don't need.

    If the past 6 years have demonstrated anything, it is that big government doesn't work. Six years of big-government policies have left the American people struggling.

    Even the Vice President of the United States admits it. Speaking at the House Democrats' retreat last week, Vice President Biden said: To state the obvious, the past six years have been really, really hard for this country.

    That is the truth. The recession officially ended more than 5 years ago, but the recovery has been weak and sluggish. Economic growth has lagged far behind the pace of other recoveries.

    By this point in the Reagan recovery, the economy had created a staggering 11.8 million more private sector jobs than we have created since the recession ended.

    Wage growth has remained stagnant under the Obama administration, while prices have risen. The average family health insurance premium has increased by over $3,000 since the President's health care law was passed. Household income has declined by more than $2,000 over the past 6 years. And too many Americans are unemployed or trapped in part-time jobs because they can't find full-time employment.

    Over the past 6 years, middle-class families have had to work harder and harder just to stay in place. Getting ahead has started to seem like an impossible dream.

    Republicans are committed to changing that. Providing relief to the middle class is the priority of America's new Congress. We intend to do it by eliminating the top-down, big-government policies of the past few years and replacing them with a new path focused on growing the economy from the ground up.

    If big government programs tend to assume one thing, it is that government knows best. The government decides what it thinks you need, and then it makes you pay for it.

    Well, Republicans don't believe government knows best. We believe the American people know best. And our goal is to get government off the backs of American families. We want to eliminate burdensome government programs and regulations and allow Americans to keep more of their hard-earned dollars. We want to leave Americans free to make the best decisions for their families about health care, about housing, and about everything in between. We want to make sure Americans live in an economy that provides the resources and opportunities they need to support their families and achieve their dreams. That is what we mean by fighting for people, not government, and we have already gotten started.

    Senate Republicans just passed legislation to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. This project is a win-win for Americans. It would support 42,000 jobs during construction. It would invest billions in the economy. It would bring in millions in revenue to State and local governments.

    In my home State of South Dakota alone, the pipeline would bring in $20 million in tax revenue. That is a lot of funding for local priorities such as schools and teachers, law enforcement, roads, and bridges.

    Finally, the Keystone Pipeline would substantially reduce our reliance on oil from unstable countries such as Russia, Venezuela, and Iran. That would be good news for American families' energy bills.

    In addition to legislation to approve Keystone, Republicans have a number of other job-creating bills on the agenda.

    The House of Representatives has already taken up legislation to make it easier for employers to hire veterans by exempting new veteran hires from ObamaCare's burdensome employer mandate. House Republicans have also taken up legislation to fix ObamaCare's 30-hour workweek rule, which is currently cutting workers' hours and wages by making it more difficult for employers to create or maintain full-time positions.

    Republicans will also be releasing our own budget in the next few weeks, and it will be very different from President Obama's. First of all, our budget is going to balance. The President's budget never balances--ever--and that is not a sustainable path for our country. Families have to balance their budgets. They don't have a choice. The Federal Government should be no different.

    The President tends to act as if the Federal Government is different, as if the fact that his new government programs have good intentions means he can somehow ignore the fact that the country can't afford them. But the Federal Government is just like any family or business or organization. If its budget isn't balanced, bad things happen.

    Right now, the Federal Government is in debt to the tune of $18.1 trillion. That number is so large that it is practically unfathomable.

    To put it in perspective, 18.1 trillion people are more than 2,540 times the total population of the Earth; 18.1 trillion miles is the distance to the Moon and back--almost 38 million times.

    Needless to say, a debt that big is not a good thing--and the President's budget would keep adding to it. In fact, it would add another $8.5 trillion to the debt. That is not good news for future generations who will have to pay down the bills our generation is racking up.

    Republicans' budget will balance. It will take aim at out-of-control Federal spending and address our massive Federal debt. Our budget will also cut waste to make the government more efficient, effective, and accountable to the American people. There is no excuse for wasting Americans' money on ineffective and duplicative programs.

    The President's budget is about the past. Republicans' budget will be about the future. The American people sent a clear message in November that they were tired of the status quo in Washington. They were tired of gridlock. They were tired of the same old top-down, government- knows-best approach to governing.

    Well, Republicans heard them. And since we took control of Congress a month ago, we have focused on living up to the trust the American people placed in us. We have gotten Washington working again.

    In just 1 month, we have held more amendment votes than Democrats held in an entire year. Committees are back up and running, and Republicans and Democrats are getting the chance to make their constituents' voices heard.

    We have passed job-creating legislation, and we are going to keep passing more. We are going to put forward the kind of budget the American people are looking for: a budget that balances, a [[Page S713]] budget that targets wasteful Washington spending, and a budget that starts to address the massive debt that has accumulated under the Obama administration.

    President Obama has a choice: He can continue to put forward the failed policies his budget offers, or he can move away from these policies and work with Republicans to start cleaning up the debt and getting government off the backs of the American people. We hope he will choose to work with us.

    But whatever he chooses, though, Republicans will continue this Congress as we have begun: by getting Washington working again for American families.

    I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.

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