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Executive Calendar

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Location: Washington, DC


EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I cannot support this budget resolution. It closely mirrors the President's budget which projects the largest deficit in history for 2006 $423 billion. We are on an unsustainable path. We cannot continue year after year to pass budget resolutions that increase the deficit, rather than put us on a course of fiscal responsibility.

Not only should we be concerned about growing deficits, we should be concerned about the debt. Under this budget, the deficit will increase to $371 billion for 2006, and the debt will increase by $654 billion a year. The Senate has just passed a $781 billion increase in the debt ceiling, the fourth largest debt limit increase in our Nation's history. This is the fourth time that the Bush administration has requested an increase in the debt. These increases now total $3 trillion.

The service on the debt alone for this year is $220 billion. This money could be put to better use. With the approaching retirement of the baby boomers, we should not be increasing the debt.

The budget being debated today is not based in reality. It leaves out the full 10 year numbers. Without these numbers, the budget hides the full cost of making the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent. The budget does not include funding for the ongoing war costs beyond 2007. Relief from the individual alternative minimum tax, AMT, is only addressed for 2006. It does not include the President's Social Security privatization proposal.

This budget is incomplete. If the missing items were added back, the debt would increase every year by more than $600 billion. The deficit and debt will continue to explode because the budget will continue a course of spending more than the amount of revenue raised.

It is not right to vote on budget that is incomplete. In his budget, the President only chose to address the AMT for 1 year--2006--and chose not to address it for the current budget year. The administration's budget deliberately leaves out a more permanent solution for the AMT for two reasons: first, the AMT would add additional costs to the budget; and second, the AMT masks the true costs of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.

This budget resolution follows the administration's lead. It chooses to only address the AMT for 2006 and to extend tax provisions that do not expire until the end of 2010. The budget does not address the 23 million families that will be impacted by the AMT in 2007, but the budget makes sure that the tax cuts that are skewed to those making more than $1 million are extended through 2011.

This budget continues the repeated pattern of choosing tax cuts for the wealthy rather than investing in our future. The tax cuts going to those who on average earn over $1 million a year cost $41 billion for a single year. In contrast, the President's budget cuts education by $2.2 billion--the biggest cut ever for education. This budget shortchanges veterans. There are reductions in law enforcement, firefighter grants, and essential air services. These are just a few of the many examples how the budget's priorities are misguided.

The budget does not adequately address healthcare. Access to quality, affordable health care continues to be a challenge for most Americans and the Bush budget only exacerbates the problems. And what about the uninsured? There is nothing in this budget to help them. Sure, there are some recycled, stale proposals the administration has been trying to advance for 5 years now but nothing really new. Nothing that will help any families gain access to coverage that is quality, affordable, comprehensive care. It's high time we have a real debate and discussion in the Congress on real reforms necessary to address the health needs of our nation.

The budget resolution assumes the deep cuts and unprecedented fees for the Small Business Administration, SBA. The administration's request of $624 million is insufficient to meet the needs of small businesses in this country that need access to capital, counseling and Federal contracts. By the SBA's own calculation, the request is $18 million less than what was available to the Agency last year when congressional initiatives and disaster supplemental appropriations are excluded.

I proposed an amendment to increase the funding shortfall by $151 million and it was offset by closing abusive corporate tax loopholes. Unfortunately, this amendment did not garner bipartisan support. However, we were able to reach a bipartisan agreement that would increase SBA funding by $130 million.

This budget is another example of how the Republican controlled Congress continues to misuse the reconciliation process. The reconciliation process was designed to make it easier to pass difficult legislation that would provide fiscal discipline. It is now being used to ram through tax cuts and pet priorities that do not have the support of 60 Senators.

I am vigorously opposed to the inclusion in the budget of assumed revenues and a reconciliation instruction for the Energy and Natural Resources Committee linked to opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas leasing and development. I object to the inclusion of drilling in the refuge for two primary reasons. First, it is irresponsible to base our budget on the highly speculative projection of lease revenues from the Coastal Plain. Second, I oppose using the reconciliation process to open the Arctic Refuge to drilling because it would limit consideration of this highly controversial issue.

The reconciliation process is being used to address only one Senate committee's jurisdiction, and is clearly intended to authorize oil and gas leasing in the Arctic Refuge. This underscores that the real objective of the process is not deficit reduction, but rather to circumvent normal Senate process and procedure with respect to this controversial subject.

On the whole this budget reflects no new ideas and recycles bad policies. This budget fails to address reality, and I therefore cannot support it.

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