Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) continued his push this week for a balanced, long-term federal budget plan with his support of the Cooper-LaTourette Budget Amendment. This plan was the only budget to garner bipartisan support as the House considered various spending plans for the 2013 fiscal year. Himes supported this budget plan, which drew votes from across the political spectrum, including from Members of both the Congressional Black Caucus and the Republican Study Committee, because it uses a balanced approach to stabilize the nation's fiscal condition.
Himes and the authors of the amendment, Congressmen Jim Cooper (TN-5) and Steven LaTourette (OH-14), have worked with a small, bipartisan group of Members over the past several months to codify the budget recommendations of Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, who headed the President's Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. This amendment realizes that legislation.
The plan Himes supported is based on principles key to any responsible fiscal plan:
Establishing a 10-year framework to stabilize the debt;
Protecting and improving programs to assist the most vulnerable citizens;
Simplifying and reforming the tax code while lowering individual and corporate rates;
Making smart, strategic cuts to spending; and
Extending the solvency of Medicare and Social Security.
"The longer we wait, the more difficult our budget problems become," Himes said. "It's time to move forward with a long-term deficit reduction plan that cuts the deficit through shared sacrifice and invests in what we know is essential to our future success--renewable energy, education, and transportation."
The bipartisan budget amendment Himes supported mixes cuts and revenue increases to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years while improving the nation's safety net. It also directs Congress to establish a tax reform plan that simplifies the tax code, broadens the base, eliminates the backdoor spending, and lowers individual and corporate income tax rates, all while producing about $100 billion a year to reduce the deficit. The amendment replaces the immediate, across-the-board spending cuts established in the Budget Control Act (August 2011 debt limit deal) with targeted, thoughtful cuts and reorders spending in a way that eliminates outdated and duplicate programs to instead invest in America's future. These cuts include substantial reductions in defense spending and a decline in the percentage of federal spending required to service the debt.
Unlike other budget proposals offered this week, the bipartisan budget amendment Himes supported improves the sustainability of Medicare and Social Security while increasing benefits for the most vulnerable beneficiaries. The budget gives specific direction for provisions to reduce health care costs and improve care, including encouraging coordinated care based on quality, not quantity, and increasing prescription drug discounts. It also establishes a more progressive framework for Social Security benefits. Under this plan, low-wage workers would see their minimum benefits increase. In comparison, the budget offered by House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (WI-1) passes the burden of rising health care costs onto seniors and cuts Heat Start and Pell Grants.