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Balancing the Budget

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. MOORE. I can tell you that one of the most heartbreaking experiences that I have had as a Member of Congress is to watch this Congress attempt to balance the deficit and the budget on the backs of infants, on the backs of children who need their educational opportunity, and on the backs of seniors. We have seen gargantuan efforts to cut Medicare, the main program to prevent poverty for our seniors; Medicaid; the Women, Infants, and Children program; nutrition programs for children; efforts to decimate educational opportunities for young people, while we refuse to end tax breaks for Big Oil.

The Big Five companies made nearly a trillion dollars--$1 trillion--in profits in the last decade, and yet we continue to insist on providing tax breaks for these profitable companies. Every year, we provide subsidies to oil companies that they pocket.

In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, we are cutting food from babies. I saw numerous, numerous amendments to cut moneys for lactating moms, pregnant women, and newborn babies, while we refuse to end the tax breaks for millionaires. We cannot afford another $800 billion in tax cuts for the top 2 percent in our country. This is backwards. This is un-American.

I join my Democratic colleagues from the House Budget Committee to express--in no uncertain terms--the basic principles we are fighting for in this budget agreement. I also want to state my support for my colleagues from the House of Representatives who are working hard to negotiate an agreement that demonstrates both decency and fairness.

I have had the honor of serving on the Budget Committee for two-and-a-half years, and I have learned a thing or two through my service. I also brought my own budgetary expertise to the table--as a former legislator for the State of Wisconsin, as a former community leader, and as a former (and current!) head of household. I know--and all of us here know, though we are not all admitting it--the fundamental truth that any budget agreement must take a balanced, reasonable approach towards deficit reduction. We cannot simply slash spending while preserving every nickel and dime of tax breaks for giant corporations and multi-millionaires.

As we stand here today, the leaders from both parties, and their staff, are working round-the-clock to chart our path forward. The American people have expressed their concern about our national debt and deficit, and the Congress has responded. We are on the brink of making new and historic policy changes that will be very difficult to un-do. We have the unique opportunity to make the right choice to end a wide array of gratuitous tax loopholes that will save billions upon billions of dollars--and in the end, will help us to preserve the priorities that are so crucial for Wisconsin's Fourth District, and for people all across this country.

We have the opportunity to choose to trim down the debt by cutting tax subsidies for oil companies--instead of cutting nutrition programs for Women, Infants, and Children, WIC.

We have the opportunity to choose to reduce the deficit by cutting ethanol subsidies--instead of cutting Medicare.

This is nothing short of an historic moment in time. We cannot turn our backs on these opportunities.

My Democratic colleagues at the budget negotiation table have assured us many times that revenue-raisers must be part of the solution. Unfortunately, their Republican counterparts have not offered us similar reassurance.

We're already in desperate need of a just and decent tax code that actually requires our Nation's most successful, wealthy people to pay their fair share.

We recently learned that one of the largest U.S. corporations, General Electric, paid no federal taxes in 2010. GE claimed a $3.2 billion tax benefit on reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, including $5.1 billion from its operations in the United States.

And that's just one example. Other corporations are able to pick from a long menu of tax breaks that allow them to reap profits while shipping jobs overseas.

We just celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Bush tax cuts--so we have timely, concrete data showing us what happens when you slash income tax rates. Then-President Bush promised that his tax cuts would ``starve the beast,'' reducing revenues and thus forcing members of Congress to reduce the size of the Federal Government. He claimed that low taxes would stimulate the economy, and increase the prosperity of our Nation. He vowed that tax breaks would create jobs and generate wealth for all.

Well, we now know the truth: Most of the benefits accrued to the rich. The tax cuts didn't spur job growth. During the 2001 to 2007 business cycle, America's economy enjoyed the slowest rate of jobs growth on record since World War II--a rate that was just one-fifth the pace of what we saw in the 1990s. High-wage earners' income increased, but inequality just got worse. Government didn't get smaller: in fact, we saw massive expansion, in the form of new programs like Medicare Part D, and two new wars.

In addition to the cautionary tale of the Bush years--what we've seen over the past 30 years is that lower marginal tax rates have not led to particularly impressive economic growth, labor markets or revenues. Growth was actually more impressive back when marginal tax rates were higher.

The verdict is in. We need to reform our tax code now, for the sake of fairness, and for the sake of our economy. We cannot continue to fight tooth and nail for special interests, for the sake of justifying unprecedented cuts to everything from education to health care to infrastructure to public safety. We cannot protect the wealthy few at the expense of tens of millions of low-income and working-class families.

There is no excuse for this. We can, and we must, do better.

We all know we'll have to make hard choices to come to an agreement. But my Democratic colleagues also know that we must do all we can to preserve our economic progress, create jobs, and preserve programs that serve struggling families. We must reduce the deficit--but we must do it while adhering to basic principles of fairness and morality.


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