PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 4663, SPENDING CONTROL ACT OF 2004 -- (House of Representatives - June 24, 2004)
Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I call up House Resolution 692 and ask for its immediate consideration.
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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.
And I would like to say to the last speaker the hand was reached out on an amendment and the last speaker took the hand and that is why he and I have an amendment on the floor today on a very important item. So while all the minority's amendments were not made in order, there are a couple of amendments that were bipartisan that he and I have. And I hope that he does not count among the silly amendments the one that he and I have.
Mr. STENHOLM. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
Mr. STENHOLM. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the gentleman's yielding, and I appreciate that fact, and I do not consider all of the amendments silly. I consider some of them very silly, but the one that I am agreeing with him on I do not consider silly.
Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, I appreciate the clarification.
Mr. Speaker, let me frame what this is all about. What are we doing here today? What we are trying to accomplish here today is to clean up this silly budget process we have here in Washington. All of us have different ideas on how to fix this system.
There are some differences in philosophies. We heard the gentleman talking about the PAYGO, their version of PAYGO, our version of PAYGO, that the basis of that philosophical difference is we do not believe fiscal discipline in Washington should come from tax increases. We believe fiscal discipline in Washington should come from spending cuts. And when we have the PAYGO system, much like what we have had in the past, history already shows that it puts a bias in the law for tax increases, not spending cuts.
So what we want to accomplish, because we believe this, we want the discipline, we want the inertia, we want the pressure to be on controlling spending, not raising taxes. There is the big philosophy difference.
But going down the road of the system we have here in Washington, Mr. Speaker, I would argue that we have this thing in place since 1974; and since 1974, Washington has had a horrible record of getting its handle on our budgets, when Republicans ran things and when Democrats ran things. For a while in the 1990s, we did a pretty good job, but since then we have not; and I would argue that.
We are doing well in many years, but when we look at a system, for example, that allows some appropriations to come to the floor, say, adding $50 million for a rain forest museum in Coraville, Iowa, and if we want to come to this floor and pass an amendment so that we can do so on behalf of our taxpayer constituents to say I do not think we should pay $50 million for a rain forest museum in Coraville, Iowa, I have an amendment to strike that proposal. We could pass that amendment. But by the rules of this institution from the 1974 Budget Act, that $50 million would have to be re-spent somewhere else in the Federal Government. It could not be saved. That is ridiculous. That is just one example of how crazy this budget system is that we have today.
Another crazy example of these rules is when we pass budgets, and we really work hard on passing these budget resolutions, as soon as we pass these budget resolutions, they amount to nothing more than mere guidelines. They are not actual, enforceable budgets. They do not take the force of law.
What we propose today, through an amendment and through a couple of substitutes, is that when we actually pass a budget here, it means something. We stick to it. We enforce it. It is honest. It is going to work. It is going to happen. That is not what happens today.
So we want to have a budget process that is done at the beginning of the budget process where the President signs it into law, and because the budget becomes law, it therefore is enforceable so that we can make sure we stick to the budget, that we plan the finances of this country so that we can factor in all the things we need to think about: the level of taxation, the level of debt, the deficits, getting ready for the baby boomer retirement, all of those things so that when we actually pass a budget, it works and it is enforceable. These are not really crazy ideas. These are commonsense ideas to bring common sense to a budget system that is broken.
I would challenge anyone to come to the floor and argue on behalf of this current budget system to say that this is the epitome of common sense, that this thing works right as it should. We have not changed this system since 1974. It is high time we changed it. We are going to have a lot of amendments to try to do that. We are going to have some big substitute votes on big bills to do that. This is the product of a collaborative work. It is a product of Democrats and Republicans. It is a product that needs to come to this floor. It is a product that needs to pass into law so that we bring common sense back to our budget process.