CONCURRENT RESOLUTION ON THE BUDGET FOR FISCAL YEAR 2008--CONFERENCE REPORT -- (Senate - May 17, 2007)
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Mr. OBAMA. Madam President, I rise today to speak about the conference agreement on the budget resolution that was just passed by the House of Representatives this afternoon.
This budget makes an important departure from the irresponsible budgets of the recent past and begins to restore balance. Instead of gutting programs that help our most vulnerable citizens and communities, this budget enables these programs--like the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Medicare, COPS and others--to keep serving those who rely on the commitments our Nation has made to help all its citizens. Instead of gimmicks and passing the buck to others, this budget brings greater transparency and responsibility back to Washington.
I am supporting this agreement as an important step in getting America's budget back on track. A large part of getting back on track is reinstating the pay-go rule in the Senate. Under pay-go, Congress will not be able simply to pass along the debt to future generations for the choices we make today. We will have to be accountable for paying our own bills and collecting our own revenue. Pay-go by itself will not bring our budget back to balance, but it will help those of us committed to fiscal responsibility to keep budget deficits from getting worse.
When I talk to families in Illinois and across the country, I hear the same sets of concerns and aspirations. The people I meet want affordable health care for themselves and their children. They want a quality education for their children. They are concerned about our national security and our domestic security. They want to retire with dignity. They are concerned about the costs of this war in the thousands of sacrificed lives and the hundreds of billions of dollars borrowed from abroad. They are concerned about their own credit card debts and our rising national debt.
The failure of our nation to guarantee access to affordable health care for children is shameful. This budget rejects the President's proposed cuts to the State Children's Health Insurance Program and makes children's healthcare a priority for Congress.
The security of our Nation is a critical priority, and honoring our veterans is our moral obligation. This budget fully funds our Defense and Homeland Security funding needs and makes it possible to provide the quality health care and services that our veterans deserve.
This budget calls for strong new measures to close the tax gap, shut down tax scams, and address offshore tax havens. I am particularly pleased to see the strong support for improved mandatory reporting by brokerage firms of the adjusted cost basis of their clients' stock, bond, and mutual fund investments.
During the Senate debate on the Budget Resolution, two of my amendments were adopted to increase summer-term education funding and to promote carbon sequestration technology. I am pleased that the conference agreement has laid the foundation to accommodate legislation that I have introduced in these important fields.
This budget fully funds the President's request for defense spending while prioritizing improvements in veterans health care, children's health coverage, and education. It eliminates the deficit by 2012 and reduces spending as a share of GDP. And it does this without raising taxes or requiring deep cuts to critical government services.
This budget demonstrates that we can rise above ideology and gimmicks and begin tackling the serious challenges we face as a nation. I commend the outstanding leadership of Chairman Conrad and the good work of the House and Senate conferees.
I hope my colleagues will join me in voting for this conference agreement.
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