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Conference Report on S. Con. Res. 70, Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2009

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Location: Washington, DC


CONFERENCE REPORT ON S. CON. RES. 70, CONCURRENT RESOLUTION ON THE BUDGET FOR FISCAL YEAR 2009 -- (House of Representatives - June 05, 2008)

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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

First off, I want to start by congratulating Chairman Spratt. I mentioned this last time, but I think it is worth repeating. It is never easy to bring a budget conference report to bear, particularly in an election year, and Congress has had a pretty splotchy, spotty track record on this lately, and the chairman deserves accolades for keeping this process going, keeping this process alive.

We've had problems with the farm bill, and this bill being on the floor today is real proof of the skill and determination by the Budget chairman, and so I want to give him the compliment he deserves for bringing this to the floor.

It's important that we have a budget process. It's important that we recognize the need to budget in this institution, and doing this today recognizes that. But at the same time, Congress actually should budget, and I would argue, Mr. Speaker, that this budget is really nothing more than the congressional baseline with about a quarter of a trillion dollars slopped on top of it for the Appropriations Committee.

And so what is the opportunity we have here today if we were actually really budgeting? I think there's three things that we ought to be doing in this budget in this Congress.

One, let's have solid growth in our economy, and let's make sure we put ourselves in the position to lead in the international marketplace by having an economic policy that puts America ahead, in the lead and in a position to win in this era of global competition.

Number two, we need to reform our health and retirement security programs so we can fulfill the mission of our health and retirement security programs in this country. The government is making promises to people right now in health and retirement security that it knows it can't keep. We all know this here. We know, Republicans, Democrats, that our government is making promises to a generation of Americans and another generation of Americans that we know are unsustainable. So we need to come up with a plan to make good on that promise, which right now is not being fulfilled.

And number three, while we do that, we have got to lift this burden of debt
on the next generation. We, with this budget, are going faster down the pathway of sending a crushing burden of debt and taxes on the next generation. Both parties are to blame for this. So I'm not simply saying that all of the sudden now the Democrats are running Congress it's all bad. Both parties have been responsible for not addressing these problems. But now that my friends on the other side of the aisle are in the majority, this is their opportunity. This is their chance and opportunity to actually address this problem and take it head-on. And what are they doing? Nothing about it.

Here's the problem, Mr. Speaker. Not only does this budget propose to do nothing to address these issues, it makes them worse. Because by doing nothing, we're going deeper into debt.

Under this budget, what this budget proposes we do for 5 years, by doing nothing to address the two biggest problems we have, the two biggest programs we have, the two biggest unfulfilled promises we have, namely, Medicare and Social Security, this budget proposes to go $14 trillion deeper in debt to just those two programs alone; by doing nothing for 1 year according to the trustees of Medicare and Social Security, $2 trillion deeper into debt. This budget, $14 trillion increase.

But here's also what this budget does propose. What it does propose is the largest tax increase in American history, $683 billion over the next 5 years. That equals about $2,000 in per year tax increase on the average American family, and there's no effort to cut wasteful spending in government whatsoever.

We've heard about the Bridge to Nowhere. We've heard about the $50 million rain forest museum. We heard about the bill passed 2 weeks ago to give $250 million for one earmark from a Senator from the other side of the Rotunda for one company. We're earmarking ourselves to oblivion in this Congress, and this bill does nothing to curtail that. This bill basically assumes that there's no waste in the Federal Government, that every taxpayer dollar is being spent well and wisely and with full accounting and full transparency, and because of that, this ought to give the government even more money to spend on top of the baseline.

This bill will push the appropriations above the $1 trillion mark in the next coming year. That's an increase of $80 billion, an increase of 9 percent over last year. This bill, as a consequence of giving this 9 percent increase in discretionary spending, will lead to the largest annual increase in the debt in our Nation's history.

And so for all the talk of fiscal conservatism, for all the talk of fiscal responsibility we're going to hear in the next hour, this bill right here we're debating, right here, largest increase in debt in our Nation's history, exceeding the $1 trillion mark in government agency spending.

And this bill does absolutely nothing, absolutely nothing, to address the upcoming entitlement crisis. As I mentioned, this bill adds to the entitlement crisis. It increases the entitlement liability in this country by 37 percent, $14 trillion increase in unfulfilled promises and contingent liability, a 37 percent increase.

Now, given the fact that this bill does nothing to address the long-run problems in this country, what about the short-run? What about the problems in the short-run? This bill does nothing to propose any new energy policy whatsoever.

We have $4 gasoline, and this is where it really hits close to home. This is where I really have a personal problem with the fact that we're doing this bill. You know, just 2 days ago in my hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin, General Motors just announced they're shutting down the factory there, the factory that has produced the Yukon, the Tahoe and the Suburban. And the reason they're shutting down the factory at the end of this model year is because of $4 gas. It costs a hundred bucks to fill up a Suburban, and people aren't buying them. Thirty percent decline in sales just this year alone, and people are scratching their heads and wondering how did this happen, how did this come to be, why do we have $4 gas.

Well, here's the problem, Mr. Speaker, we're 60 percent dependent on foreign oil, and you know what's so galling about that is the fact that we have about seven times the amount of oil under our ground in this country than Saudi Arabia has under theirs. Yet it's all off-limits.

We have got 16 billion barrels of oil up in ANWR that are off-limits by Congress. We've got 86 billion barrels of oil in the Outer Continental Shelf off-limits by Congress. We have 2 trillion barrels of oil in the Intermountain Region in this country, all off-limits by Congress.

We know how to drill in a very safe and environmentally sound way. And what's more galling from that is the Congressional Research Service is now telling us, just passing the ANWR legislation, the smallest of these three fields I just mentioned, would get us about $191 billion in revenue to the Federal Government over the next 10 years.

Imagine what we could do with that. Imagine the deficit reduction that could occur as a consequence of that. Imagine the hydrogen, the fuel cells, the research that we could do to actually invest in a Manhattan Project to get us off of oil itself. But unfortunately, my friends on the other side of the aisle are not doing anything.

So while I'm happy we have a budget resolution on the floor, I'm very dispirited and very disappointed in its content. Largest tax increase in American history. Absolutely nothing to confront the entitlement crisis in this country, a 37 percent increase in this liability. Largest increase in national debt in the American history. And nothing to address the long-term and nothing to address the short-term by making us less dependent on foreign oil.

I find it interesting that our friends on the other side of the aisle are so critical of our foreign policy as being too unilateral; yet what we're simply saying to other countries is we're going to drill for oil in your country and buy that from you and not explore it in our own country. A little bit of a hypocritical stance, I would argue.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I'm going to reserve the balance of my time.

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