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Public Statements

Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. PELOSI. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

As is very evident by the response to your remarks in praise of Father Coughlin, if there's one thing that Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives agree on, it is that God has truly blessed us with the service of Father Coughlin as our Chaplain for the past 11 years.

When we talk about him being our Chaplain, it's not that he's just the Chaplain of the Members, he's the Chaplain for the staff, for the carpenter that we see in the hall, for the service employees who are here. He ministers to the needs of all of us here, sometimes in a very macro way.

When 9/11 struck, or in Tucson most recently, or with the anthrax threat, those kinds of things had an impact on all of us. Father was there for us as a group, and he was there for us individually. We never know what joys or pain our colleagues or our workers here are undergoing or suffering. Father Dan knows more than most of us, and his discretion is something that we all value and respect.

Father Dan has ministered to the needs of the poor with the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India. He has meditated with the Trappist monks in the monastery, and I think he's going back to do some of that again. He has been a scholar-in-residence at the North American College in Rome, exchanging ideas there. He has ministered to the needs of his parishioners in LaGrange, Illinois, and that probably serves him best for ministering to the diverse needs of the flock that he shepherds here. We are very, very, very honored.

Last year, many of us in a bipartisan way stood up and sang the praises. It seems so recent, but it was a year ago. Then after that, Father was honored in Illinois for serving as a priest for 50 years. For some of us, it was really a special source of pride. Although we respect all of our Chaplains, it was a source of personal pride that he was the first Roman Catholic Chaplain in the House of Representatives, and he showed that he could minister to the needs of all of the Members of all faiths here.

So, yes, we are very blessed by his service in the Congress. We are going to miss him a great deal. We wish him well as he goes forth. The legacy that he left us is one that was not only of opening prayer each day to inspire us and lift us to a higher place in our deliberations, but he set an example of civility in the Congress of confidentiality of relationships. He was a great Chaplain. We will miss him greatly, and we are enormously grateful to him.

Thank you, Father Coughlin.


Ms. PELOSI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I thank the gentleman for yielding. I commend him and the members of the Budget Committee for their hard work to bring legislation to the floor to enable us to have this debate yesterday and today and I think for a long time to come.

We have said it over and over again: A Federal budget should be a statement of our national values. It should reflect what is important to us as we allocate the resources of investments for the future. Much has been said about this deficit, and I want to join the distinguished ranking member before I go any further in correcting the record.

I listened with great interest as Members on the other side are taking credit for the Clinton administration balanced, or budgets in surplus. And I remind them or tell them, because many of them may not know, that those budgets were a result of the 1993 budget vote that we took on this floor of the House without one Republican vote which was the source of that fiscal discipline and job creation, again, as other speakers have said, over 20 million jobs created.

So when I hear the Republicans say it was the Clinton Presidency and the Republican Congress, no, it was the Democratic Congress, because we know that deficit reduction is essential. We had to stop the budget deficits that President Clinton inherited, and now we have to stop the budget deficits that President Obama inherited.

Budget deficits, I've heard our colleagues say, are immoral. I quite agree. We have a responsibility and an obligation to our children and our grandchildren not to send them any bills, personal or official. And we do not intend to do so. But they were immoral during the Bush years, too, when they were giving tax cuts to the rich, two unpaid-for wars and a prescription drug benefit that gave away the store to the private sector and sent the bill to the taxpayer.

So here we are with a choice on the floor. Some of it was spoken; a vision of it was shared with the Nation by President Obama the other day. He talked about an America of greatness that cared about its people. He talked about the essential need for us to reduce the deficit. He talked about growth, investments, and job creation.

He talked about being fair to our seniors and keeping our promise to them. In the budgets that we have before us today, one presented by Mr. Van Hollen, one presented by the Republicans, we see a sharp contrast, one that supports the vision that the President puts forth, and one that definitely does not.

Mr. Chairman, we are talking about the budget deficit; but we also in doing so, if we are going to do right by the American people, have to recognize that there are other deficits. We have a deficit in education. We have a deficit in innovation because innovation begins in the classroom. We have a deficit in investments in our infrastructure. All of these investments have a payoff back to us. They create growth. They bring revenue to the Treasury, and they help reduce the deficit.

It is a false economy to think that we can write a budget that cuts serious investments in education, infrastructure, innovation and the rest and think that we are going to end the deficit. You cannot cut your way out of it. You cut, you grow, and you increase revenue. That's a subject I will hold for when we talk about the Republican budget more specifically.

What is important to note, if you had one thing to know about the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans in terms of these budgets, if you had just one thing, it would be on the subject of Medicare. The Republican budget breaks the promise that this country has made to seniors that after a lifetime of work, they will be able to depend on Medicare to protect them in retirement. But the plan here ends Medicare as we know it and dramatically reduces benefits for seniors. It forces seniors to buy their insurance from the health insurance companies where the average senior would be forced to pay twice as much for half the benefit--as much for some as $20,000 a year.

I want to call the attention of my colleagues to this chart, ``Senior Citizens Health Cost Skyrockets Under Republican Budget.'' Blue is the government share, red is the beneficiary share. Health care spending for a typical 65-year-old in 2022 dollars, the Republican budget would have $8,000 from the Federal Government, $12,500 from the individual, which is more than twice what the Medicare cost should be to a senior, $6,150; twice as much for less in benefit.

Now, this chart is not our chart. This information was conveyed to the Republican chairman of the Budget Committee, Mr. Ryan, by the Director of the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, in a letter to him describing what the cost would be to seniors under his plan. I just don't think that is fair to our seniors. This plan has the wrong priorities. It is focused on helping corporate special interests and Wall Street, not reducing the deficit or helping the country.

It raises taxes for the middle class while cutting them for the wealthiest in our country. It repeals Wall Street reforms for the big banks. It abolishes Medicare as we know it, cuts funding for education, health care, alternative energy and job training programs, and uses the money not for reducing the deficit but to help the most privileged, help the most privileged and negate what we did in our health care bill, which was to start to close the doughnut hole.

If you are a senior and you see that your prescription drug costs will come down under the health care bill and the doughnut hole will close, this budget reverses that.

There are so many reasons for seniors and people with disabilities and people who care about Medicare to be concerned. Medicare is a bedrock of stability for our seniors, for their health, for their economic security, and for those with disabilities who depend on it. We must make sure that it is solvent, but we must not charge seniors more while giving bigger tax cuts to the wealthy.

Just remember these three points. First of all, it abolishes Medicare as we know it, increasing costs to seniors, while it gives tax breaks of tens of billions of dollars to Big Oil.

Changes in Medicaid will send seniors out of nursing homes while we give tax breaks to companies that send jobs overseas. This Ryan budget, the Republican budget, will hurt education, cut the education of our children, increase the cost of higher education for young adults, 10 million young adults, while we give tax cuts to the wealthiest. That's just not the American way.

The President said in his remarks that we are about shared responsibility and shared sacrifice. We are about a sense of community in our country. And so as we want to reduce the deficit, the fiscal deficit, and we must, and we have proven, Democrats have proven that we can, this proposal does not.

But what Mr. Van Hollen is proposing in the positive sense is recognizing that we need to reduce the deficit, growth is a part of that and so we have investments in education and the innovation that springs from that, and other initiatives that grow our economy, that strengthen the middle class, that creates jobs as it reduces the deficit.

I urge our colleagues to vote ``yes'' on Mr. Van Hollen's budget and ``no'' on the Ryan budget to strengthen the middle class.


Ms. PELOSI. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

I thank the gentleman for yielding. I thank him for bringing a budget proposal to the floor today that is a statement of our national values and about what we care about: investing in our children, honoring our seniors, creating jobs, growing the economy and strengthening the middle class. Thank you, Mr. Van Hollen, for your great leadership in that regard.

Mr. Chairman, today we will be taking a vote that is very, very important for the health and security of American seniors. A great deal is at stake. I'm just going to focus on one part of this Republican budget. I want to say to my Republican colleagues, Do you realize that your leadership is asking you to cast a vote today to abolish Medicare as we know it? Because that is the vote that we have. This is not about an issue; this is about a value. This is about an ethic. Medicare is a core value of our social compact with the American people. Yet this budget shreds that contract which is part of the strength of our country. The Republican proposal breaks the promise that our country has made to our seniors that after a lifetime of work, they will be able to depend on Medicare to protect them in retirement.

This plan, the Republican plan, ends Medicare as we know it and dramatically reduces benefits for seniors. It forces them to pay more to buy their insurance from health insurance companies, where the average senior will be forced to pay twice as much for half the benefit. I want to repeat that: the Republican plan forces seniors to buy their insurance from health insurance companies where the average senior will be forced to pay twice as much for half the benefits, as much as $20,000 per year more for some seniors.

This plan has the wrong priority for our seniors and for all Americans. Just remember these three things about the Republican budget: It ends Medicare as we know it as it gives big tax breaks and subsidies--tens of billions of dollars--to Big Oil. This budget reduces Medicaid for our seniors in nursing homes, sending them away from nursing homes, while it gives tax breaks to companies that send jobs overseas. This budget hurts our children's education. In fact, it increases the cost of higher education for nearly 10 million of our young adults, while it gives tax breaks to America's wealthiest families. That's just not fair. It is just not the American way.

Here we are. Yesterday, we observed the 100th day of the Republican majority in Congress. In those 100 days, not one job has been created. Not one job agenda is in the works. And what are we doing? We are here to abolish Medicare instead.

I have heard our colleagues say that the budget deficit is immoral. It's been immoral for the 8 years of the Bush administration, and I didn't hear anybody say ``boo'' while we were giving tax cuts to the rich, having two wars unpaid for, and giving prescription drug bills to the private sector.

Democrats are committed to reducing the deficit. We have demonstrated that we can during the Clinton administration, and we will. We are committed to strengthening the middle class, to growing our economy as we reduce the deficit, and to creating jobs. The Republican budget fails to do that, and the Republican budget will not have Democratic support.

We are here, and as one of the previous speakers said, now is the time. Now is the time to preserve Medicare. And Democrats will. I urge a ``no'' vote on the Republican plan.


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