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Requirement in Budget Submission With Respect to the Cost Per Taxpayer of the Deficit

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. PELOSI. I thank the gentleman for yielding and for giving me this opportunity to support his proposal, the Chris Van Hollen proposal, as our ranking member on the Budget Committee, a proposal that is fair, responsible, and balanced.

Mr. Van Hollen has put forth an initiative that cuts spending responsibly, ends unnecessary and wasteful tax breaks for special interests, and advances the Buffett rule, ensuring that millionaires pay their fair share.

I think it is really important to note, as he did, that this will be yet another time we are coming to the floor asking for the Republican leadership to allow a vote in what they boast of as an open Congress, open to other ideas, that has blocked over and over again the mere consideration of Mr. Van Hollen's proposal on the floor.

Instead, today, we are engaged in subterfuge. What can we do instead of doing what we really need to do and make it look as if we are doing something responsible? Yes, okay, let's get the calculation. But let's reduce that deficit. Let's reduce that deficit.

And it is important to note that this debate happens in a week that we will be taking up the continuing resolution. It has been 4 days since the sequester went into effect. The continuing resolution that the Republicans are putting forth is a bill that reinforces the sequestration.

So what does that do? The Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, told Congress last week that cuts of this size, made this quickly, would hurt hiring and incomes, slow the recovery, cost the economy 750,000 jobs this year, and keep deficits larger than otherwise.

So we are not reducing the deficit by what is really happening on the major legislation coming to this floor last week and this week in terms of sequester and continuing resolution. That is what we should be doing--figuring out a way to get rid of the sequestration.

What does sequestration mean? Whatever its Latin roots, it equals job loss--750,000 by the estimate of the chairman of the Fed.

And what is the point of all of this? There is an answer. We already have agreed in the continuing resolution--the President and the Congress have agreed to $1.2 trillion in spending cuts. We all recognize we must reduce the deficit. We have all agreed to spending cuts of that magnitude. That was in addition to $400 billion of other spending cuts in the last term of Congress. So $1.6 trillion in spending cuts, which dwarfs the $600 billion, as significant as that is, in the expiration of the Bush tax cuts at the end of last year.

But we need more revenue, and there is a place to get it.

Our distinguished Speaker said there is $100 billion in tax loopholes that could be closed. I think there is more than that, but many of the deductions that we would want people to take to strengthen the middle class I think we should separate out from what the Republicans want to do. The Republicans in Congress are protecting tax loopholes and wasteful spending in the Tax Code, which increases the deficit instead of solving problems.

Instead of closing tax loopholes for Big Oil, the Republicans want cuts for little children in Head Start--Big Oil over little children. Instead of closing tax loopholes for corporations that ship jobs overseas, 750,000 jobs will be lost here because of the sequester and the continuing resolution that contains the sequester, which is a fix that we're in because of the refusal of the Republican leadership to close those loopholes. Instead of ensuring millionaires pay their fair share, our military readiness will be impaired. We have kids who won't get the proper training when they're put into harm's way unless the Defense Department can reprogram the money; and health care for America's military families will be cut.

So there is an answer to all of this, and that is that we need to stop the spending in our Tax Code. Everybody talks about reducing spending, as our colleagues on the other side of the aisle do, and we all agree that we need to reduce it. That's why the $1.6 trillion in spending cuts, and we can try to find more. But why can't we stop the spending on the Tax Code, the spending of tax giveaways? They're called ``tax expenditures.'' They cost the taxpayer.

If you are so concerned about how much the deficit is costing every individual American, why don't we calculate how much the tax break is for Big Oil, corporations sending jobs overseas--the list goes on and on--and how much those tax expenditures cost America's working families. They do so by increasing the deficit and by not creating jobs in our own country.

Again, there is an answer here. To be hopeful, we can come together to say, okay, we all agree: let's reduce the deficit, cut spending, make some changes--those that we can--without hurting beneficiaries in mandatory spending. But why are these tax loopholes for special interests such sacred cows for the Republicans, such sacred cows that they will not even allow Mr. Van Hollen's bill to come to the floor? Are they afraid of the debate? Are they afraid of the outcome of their vote?

With that, I thank the gentleman again for his leadership and for putting forth a balanced, fair proposal to reduce the deficit in order to avoid sequestration, which we didn't, and as a counter to what the Republicans are putting forth. It's more than a counter. It's about leadership. It's about what is possible if we can work together in a bipartisan way to get the job done for the American people.

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