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Public Statements

The Ryan Budget

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. REID. Earlier this year, with November election losses fresh in their minds, top Republicans promised a kinder, gentler Republican Party, a Republican Party that cared about ``every American ..... achieving their dreams.'' Republicans bandied about words such as ``fairness'' and ``opportunity.'' They made overtures toward women and Hispanics. They promised cooperation and an end to brinkmanship. House Majority Leader Cantor even spoke of ``an agenda based on a shared vision of creating the conditions for health, happiness, prosperity for more Americans and their families.''

Rebranding, we thought, was underway. Then a few weeks passed and the Republican emphasis on fairness and equity made a direct U-turn back to where they started. Today the House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan will unveil an extreme budget that is anything but balanced. This budget reflects the same skewed priorities the Republican Party has championed for years, the same skewed priorities Americans rejected in November. The Ryan budget will call for more tax breaks for the wealthy, an end of Medicare as we know it, and Draconian cuts to education and other programs to help America's economy grow and prosper.

We have heard it many times and I will repeat it. Yogi Berra famously said, ``It's déja 2 vu all over again,'' and it really is. We have seen this before, déja 2 vu all over again. The Ryan budget will shower more tax breaks on millionaires and continue to tilt the playing field to the advantage of big corporate interests and raise taxes for the middle class.

I know Congressman Ryan is held out to be this guru who understands things so well. What he understands is gimmickry and that is what he has done so well. He has pulled the wool over the eyes of those people in the House and they continue following him, but his budget is anything but balanced, anything but fair. Members of the House should look at what they are being led into--or out of.

This plan, just like last year, refused to close a single tax loophole in order to reduce the deficit. Yet it guts investments in education, health care, public safety, scientific research, and job-creating clean energy technology. The Ryan budget would end the Medicare guarantee and force seniors into a voucher program. It would ax preventive health care such as cancer screenings and charge seniors more for prescriptions and further reduce the funding for food inspectors, police, and first responders generally. As if protecting the wealthy special interests is not bad enough, the Republican budget also devastates the economy, costing jobs and slowing economic growth.

Not only is this a wrong approach, it is the same old approach. To make matters worse, the Paul Ryan Budget No. 3--he has done it two other times--used the same fuzzy math and gimmickry as his previous two budgets, relies on accounting that is creative at best and fraudulent at worst to inflate its claims of deficit reduction. We believe it is critical to stabilize the deficit, but it will take more than accounting gimmicks to achieve real deficit reduction.

At a time when corporations are making record profits, the stock market is soaring, and wealthy Americans' income continues to rise, the deficit reduction should not have to be at the expense of middle-class families, senior citizens, and the poor. Americans have demanded a fair approach to deficit reduction for all Americans--Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. They want a fair approach to deficit reduction that makes sensible cuts and asks profitable corporations and the wealthiest among us to share the burden--balanced.

We have been listening. That is why this week Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray will introduce a budget that reflects those balanced priorities. Her plan, the Democratic plan, will cut wasteful spending and reduce the deficit, close tax loopholes that benefit the rich, and invest where the economy needs to grow, to go really hard, to continue to build, to grow. It will create a strong middle class.

Congressman Ryan and his Republican colleagues in Congress have taken a different approach, an approach that makes it plain they missed the message in the November elections. Their budget once again will put moneyed special interests ahead of middle-class families, and no amount of rebranding will hide that.


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