The Budget Deficit
Simply stated, the budget is a reflection of our nation's values and a blueprint for the choices that we make as a society. The choices made impact our ability to respond to the needs of working families, and our ability to provide opportunity, prosperity, and security and for all Americans. The fiscally reckless choices being made today by the Bush Administration and Republican Congress, however, are shamelessly putting special interests ahead of America's families.
The Clinton Administration and Democrats in Congress worked with Republicans on a bipartisan basis and turned years of exploding budget deficits into four straight years of budget surpluses with record economic growth. In that time, America actually began to pay down its debt to foreign nations.
Once President Bush entered office, however, the Republican Congress abandoned long-standing bipartisanship and rubber-stamped the President's agenda and his bloated tax cuts for millionaires. Since 2002, however, the Republican policy agenda has racked up $1.6 billion in accumulated budget deficits and deficits are on the horizon for as far as the eye can see. While continuing to give tax cuts to millionaires, the Republican Congress is now rubber-stamping President Bush's calls for reducing spending on critical priorities such as education, veterans benefits, health care, and environmental protection in a futile effort to pay for their millionaire tax cuts and special interest give-aways. The out-of-control deficits and misguided priorities of the Bush Administration and Republican Congress are taking us in the wrong direction and do not reflect the values of working families.
Tax Cuts for Millionaires. The bulk of the President's tax cuts are focused on those taxpayers who are least in need of tax relief. Taxpayers with incomes over $1 million will receive an average tax cut in 2010 of approximately $155,000, about one hundred times the tax cut for the average taxpayer. The President's tax breaks on investment income are even more skewed. Taxpayers earning less than $50,000 receive almost nothing from these tax cuts - just $10 - while taxpayers with incomes over $10 million receive tax cuts of approximately $500,000. The investment income tax cuts were said to spur economic growth. Yet job creation has been anemic and wages have declined since the 2001 recession. These misguided priorities do not reflect the true values of American taxpayers.
The War in Iraq. The war in Iraq was started on the grounds that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and its activities were linked to the September 11th Al Qaeda attacks. It has since been proven that there were no weapons of mass destruction and that there was no link to Al Qaeda. As the Bush Administration "stays the course," the US is now spending over $8 billion each month on operations in Iraq and total operations to date have cost $320 billion. Yet while the Bush Administration and Republican Congress demanded that we find a way to pay for the costs of meeting our own citizens' urgent needs in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, they have not once asked to find a way to pay for operations in Iraq.
Morally Irresponsible Cuts to Critical Services. To pay for their tax cuts and the war in Iraq, the President and Republican Congress have made draconian funding cuts for critical priorities and are proposing to cut even more. Their policies call for cutting critical programs, including Medicaid, veterans' benefits, community development, education, environmental protection, homeland security, and programs vital to rural communities and small businesses. The Republican Congress also seeks to make drastic changes to the Social Security and Medicare programs, jeopardizing benefits for millions of seniors. Yet at the same time, the Republican Congress will not end their habit of granting special interest give-aways to Big Oil and big defense contractors, such as Haliburton, putting special interests first and America's families last.
The Nation's Debt: $8.3 Trillion and Counting
According to the Bush Administration's own numbers, President Bush's policies are on track to increase the federal debt by over $4.2 TRILLION by 2008. It took the first 41 presidents COMBINED to accumulate a total of $4 trillion in debt. This means that the debt that America incurred over the first 200 years of our nation will be DOUBLED in only eight years under the Bush Administration. With chronic budget deficits on the horizon as far as the eye can see, America will only incur additional debt and mortgage our children's future in the process.
What Do Chronic Deficits and Growing Debt Mean for Americans?
Chronic Deficits Undermine America's Economic Strength. Deficits put upward pressure on interest rates, increasing the cost of borrowing. This, in turn, reduces private investment and jeopardizes future economic growth. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan recently warned that if these large budget deficits are not addressed, "at some point these deficits would cause the economy to stagnate or worse." We are already beginning to see signs of economic deterioration.
Under the Bush Administration, there are more people in poverty, more people without health insurance, and family income is lower than during the Clinton Administration. During the Clinton Administration's period of record economic growth and budget surpluses, a typical family's household income increased by $5,600; family income has actually decreased by $1,700 since the beginning of the Bush Administration. The economy added 22.7 million new jobs during the Clinton Administration, compared to just 2.6 million new jobs added during the Bush Administration so far. The Dow Jones increased by 227 percent during the Clinton Administration. Under President Bush's and the Republican Congress' policies, the stock market has increased by only 8 percent. Yet President Bush and the Republican Congress continue with more of the same wrong priorities that are taking our country in the wrong direction.
Growing Debt Burdens Future Generations. The persistent deficits created under President Bush and the Republican Congress simply pass the cost of their misguided policies to our children and grandchildren in the form of a growing national debt. The interest paid on this debt is one of the fastest growing parts of the federal budget and dwarfs the size of federal expenditures on such high priorities as education, homeland security, and veterans' health care. Our children and grandchildren will be forced to pay back this debt in the form of higher taxes as a tax cut that isn't paid for is nothing more than a deferred tax increase. It is morally irresponsible to place this burden on our children and grandchildren. We should be investing in our children's future, not borrowing from it.
Growing Debt Threatens America's Economic Security. Almost three-fourths of all new federal borrowing under the Bush Administration has come from foreign investors such as China and Japan. During the five years the Bush Administration has been in office, the level of foreign-owned debt has more than doubled and currently, over 46 percent of our nation's debt is owned by foreign nations. This causes billions of dollars to flow outside the U.S. and makes the U.S. beholden to nations such as China and Japan that are holding our debt. We need to immediately reverse this reckless fiscal course. America is not for sale.
There's A Better Way - What I Pledge to Do
The nation is going in the wrong direction, and America - and Central New York - is paying the price. However, our best days are not in the past or the present, but in the future, IF we have the courage to make the changes we need. Democrats are seeking a new direction for America in which the interests of working families take priority over the special interests. As your member of Congress, I will work to eliminate the budget deficit by making morally responsible choices:
* Restore Budget Discipline. Democrats are fighting to restore the budget discipline measures of the 1990s that created budget surpluses and record economic growth. However, these proven measures - originally supported by many Republicans - have expired and since been abandoned by the Republican Congress. The Democratic philosophy is simple: pay as you go. If you want to raise spending or cut taxes, you have to pay for it by finding savings elsewhere. Every family that makes these choices around the kitchen table every month in order to live within its budget understands this. It's plain common sense. By restoring budget discipline and getting back on a path to budget surpluses, we ensure America is economically strong, that we are not beholden to foreign nations such as China and Japan, that we are protecting Social Security and Medicare, and that paying down the national debt is not a burden placed on the backs of our children and grandchildren.
* Provide Sensible Tax Relief for Working Families. We should not be providing tax cuts for millionaires while those who need help the most are left behind. Big Oil should not be receiving tax relief for exploration when it is enjoying record profits while at the same time consumers are paying the price at the pump. I support sensible tax relief such as expanding tax cuts for middle-income taxpayers; increasing the child tax credit; fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax, which was designed to ensure the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes but is increasingly hitting the middle class; and making the Research and Development tax credit permanent.
* Eliminate Wasteful Spending and Give-Aways to Special Interests. Americans of every stripe are demanding accountability and a return to fiscal common sense, which is why I am committed to stand as our sentry over government spending. I will work to end the Republican culture of corruption and eliminate the "back-door" spending, no-bid contracts to Republican cronies such as Haliburton, inflated defense pork projects that do not actually support defense priorities, and special interest tax give-aways such as tax cuts and royalty relief to oil and gas companies at a time of record profits.
* Address Critical Priorities. It is morally irresponsible to slash funding for key homeland security, veterans' benefits, health care, and education programs while millionaires and oil and gas companies are receiving billions of dollars in tax relief. However, the decades-old Washington mindset to just throw money at the most troubled areas and hope that somehow they won't continue to be troubled is not the right prescription. We can employ new ways of thinking about old problems. Through innovative change, we can create new opportunities for our families and provide responsible funding for economic prosperity, a strong national defense, affordable health care, innovative energy solutions, and strong public schools.