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Public Statements

Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mrs. BOXER. We all know a budget is critical because it is not just a bunch of numbers, it is a statement as to who we are as a people--what are our values, what we think is worth investing in, what we think we should cut, and so on. It is interesting because we have been attacked--Senator Murray and the Democrats--for backing a budget the Republicans say is not in balance. Well, I want to argue the point. I think it is, in fact, the only budget, between this budget and the Republican budget in the House--which is the one embraced by the Republicans--that is balanced in many ways.

The first way this budget is balanced is between investments--the things we need to invest in for our Nation; in innovation, education, investing in our kids, investing in their health--and commitments we have made over the years to our senior citizens. I am going to talk more about that in a minute, about what the Republicans do to Medicare in their budget--by the way, they kill it. I will explain how and why. Our budget also moves us toward numerical balance in a way that economists of all sizes and stripes believe is wise, which is to get the deficit down below 3 percent of GDP.

My colleagues don't think that is good enough, although I never heard one word from them--not one word--when George W. Bush came in and shredded the budget. He took a surplus that Bill Clinton and the Democrats, with the help of some Republicans, had put in place, and they shredded it under George Bush by giving tax breaks to the wealthiest, putting two wars on the credit card, adopting a prescription drug plan that didn't allow Medicare to negotiate for lower prices, and the deficit went wild. And it didn't even make sense. I am an old--well, I am old--economics major, and I remember the basics. You don't go into such deep debt because, if there is a recession, you can't really help but spend your way out of it.

So what happened when President Obama got elected is he faced the worst deficit crisis, and that deficit went up to well over $1 trillion. He has gotten it back to $850 billion. It is still too high, but the fact is I never heard a word from my really good friends on the other side of the aisle when they were racking up those debts. It was, oh, this supply side stuff is going to be great. Well, it wasn't great. It wasn't good. And I am glad this budget takes us back to the notion of the Clinton years, which is we have a balanced approach between revenues, investments, and commitments to our people.

If we look at the Republican budget--that Ryan budget over there that passed with huge Republican support--we can see what he does. I have to tell the people something they may not know. The Ryan budget, the Republican budget, includes more tax breaks for the people at the top. Surprise. I thought we had an election about this. That didn't seem to matter to the Republicans. A new tax break of $200,000 a year for people making over $1 million. Just what we needed, Mr. President. More tax breaks for the people at the top. This is per year. Think about that. The average income is about $50,000 a year, and the Republicans are giving $200,000 a year to millionaires. Forget it. That is why they want us to send this budget back--to come out with that kind of a budget? No way. I want a balanced budget.

By the way, how do they pay for this? With unspecified closing of tax loopholes. Well, let me tell you, the amount of money they are putting in these new tax breaks--$5.7 trillion--is so high they will have to end the home mortgage deduction, which the middle class really needs. The wealthy people don't need mortgages, they can buy their homes outright. The middle class, the upper middle class need this tax break. Charitable deductions, which our charities count on, is another of their loopholes; and making sure you can write off State and local taxes, which helps our States and our cities. That is what they are going after. They do not say it because it is ``unspecified.''

I hope I have made the point that the Republican budget is basically a sham because I don't know any Senator on either side of the aisle who would vote today to do away with the charitable deduction, the home mortgage deduction, or State and local tax deduction. Maybe a couple of them would, but I can tell you, hearing from my folks at home and the charities that depend on that deduction and the real estate people who are finally seeing a little recovery, what a time to do that. So I say that budget is a sham. It doesn't balance and, worse yet, it hurts our people.

I have only one more point to make and then I will yield back the time to my friend.

How much time remains?

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Mrs. BOXER. If the Chair will advise me when I have used 5 minutes.

So let me now tell you about Medicare. In the Republican budget, if you are younger than 55, instead of getting the same Medicare your parents had and the same Medicare you have paid into and the same Medicare that you counted on, it is over, folks. It is over. You will get a voucher. There is no more Medicare. They tell you to go out with that voucher and find your own insurance.

Now, we know, because studies have shown us, that plan says you will be paying $6,000 a year more out of your own pocket for health care. That is what this so-called Medicare--new Medicare--Program is. It is not Medicare. Medicare is a guaranteed benefit where you take the card and go to the doctor. Here you take a voucher.

So now you are 55, and then you get older. If you are lucky enough to get health insurance, and you get older and now you are 70 or 80, and you are taking an insufficient voucher--you are retired--this is a giant nightmare. These are supposed to be the golden years. Well, the people who lose this will have lost the golden Medicare guarantee, I will tell you that.

Here is the final point. The Republicans say if you have Medicare, don't worry. You are fine. Baloney. If you end Medicare, destroy it like the Republicans do, the people left in it are part of a dying program that is being phased out. Who is going to try to improve the quality of that program? It is going to be like fixing an Edsel or fixing your typewriter. There is no more Medicare. It is going to be a program that is dying, that is being phased out, and that will hurt current senior citizens.

So let's be clear. The Ryan budget, the Republican budget, takes the Medicare promise and shreds it, destroys it, and it is the end.

When President Johnson signed the Medicare law in 1965, here is what he said:

No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings they have carefully put away over a lifetime. No longer will young families see their own incomes eaten away because they are carrying out their deep moral obligation to their parents, to their uncles and their aunts.

So I am saying to Senator Murray: Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your leadership. I am saying to Democrats such as Senator Coons, who has organized this today, thank you for your leadership, thank you for a budget that recognizes our obligations to our seniors, to our veterans, to our children, to this Nation, to make sure this is a Nation of innovation, and thank you for protecting transportation, an issue that I care deeply about as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Without being able to move people and move goods, our Nation will not be a leading economic power.

So I thank you, and I yield back to Senator Coons.

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