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Mr. LANGEVIN. Mr. Speaker, today's debate is about priorities. The Republican reconciliation bill provides a stark contrast between the measures Democrats know are necessary to get our fiscal house in order--creating jobs and encouraging investments, and those that Republicans covet--tax cuts for special interests and giveaways for millionaires.
It is high time we get serious about our fiscal situation, and I, like most Americans, am prepared to make sacrifices to put us on a sustainable path.
But this reconciliation bill sends our country in the wrong direction--reducing benefits for our children, elderly, and most vulnerable to pay for tax cuts to millionaires and subsidies for oil and gas companies. Under the Republican plan, 22 million families could see their food and nutrition assistance cut, and up to 300,000 children could lose both their health coverage and their school lunch program. Jeopardizing struggling families is not the way to get your country back on track.
I see the importance of these programs to my constituents every day. There are thousands of hard working Rhode Islanders who still can't make ends meet, who need a little help so their kids don't go to bed hungry or sleep in a cold house. The economic downturn has been a trying time for everyone, and all of us have a family member or a friend who has been forced to ask for help at one time or another. yet Republicans are trying to pull away the helping hand the government offers to those who are living on the edge.
At a time when we ought to be investing in our future, the Republican budget offers shortsighted measures that will irreparably shortchange our most critical national investments. With unemployment at 11.1 percent in my home state of Rhode Island, my number one priority is spurring job growth and development. Unfortunately, this Republican budget, which gives away $3 trillion in tax breaks to corporations and the super-wealthy, will do just the opposite.
Democrats are offering a fair and balanced approach that keeps the promises made to our seniors, preserves our social safety net, and maintains investments in our economic security. With key recommendations of the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles and Domenici-Rivlin budget commissions as a guide, it addresses both sides of the ledger--through strategic spending cuts and revenues. There is simply no other way to equitably address our fiscal challenges.
Mr. Speaker, the Republican budget is not what the American public wants, it is not what Rhode Islanders need, and it is not what our future generations deserve. I urge my colleagues to reject it.
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