Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) today voted for the U.S. House budget proposal for fiscal year 2014 offered by Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). This proposal ends the sequester and adopts a balanced approach to budgeting. Unlike the austerity approach of Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget, the Democratic alternative closes tax loopholes, eliminates wasteful spending, and makes strategic investments to strengthen the economy.
"According to the Congressional Budget Office, half of our current budget deficit is attributable to high unemployment and lagging economic growth," Bonamici said. "The approach taken by Chairman Ryan's budget would exacerbate the problem by cutting investments in education, research, and infrastructure. The budget I voted for makes strategic cuts, closes tax loopholes, and lays a foundation for economic growth. And importantly, it ends the sequester and puts our country on a sustainable fiscal path without ending the guarantee of Medicare."
Congress has reduced projected deficits by $2.7 trillion since August 2010 by cutting discretionary spending by $1.5 trillion, increasing tax rates for families with taxable income over $450,000 a year, and eliminating related debt servicing. The combination of deficit reduction included in the alternative budget supported by Bonamici and the total deficit reduction achieved to date meets the $4 trillion goal set forth by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission.
Unlike the Ryan budget, which maintains the sequester and cuts investments in education and infrastructure, the alternative budget invests $80 billion in an education jobs initiative, provides $50 billion to address immediate transportation needs, and uses $10 billion to establish an infrastructure bank that will help states and localities fund large, long-term infrastructure priorities. It also prevents federal student loan interest rates from doubling, preserves funding for Title I Schools, and stops cuts to Head Start.
Additionally, the alternative budget achieves significant deficit reduction without implementing the Ryan budget's Medicare voucher plan, which will shift the risks of rising health care costs to the elderly. It also preserves the Affordable Care Act reforms that currently provide seniors with reduced prescription drug costs and free preventive health care. The alternative budget also avoids Ryan's $810 billion cut to Medicare that would reduce access to nursing home care for seniors, cut health care for low income families, and reduce services for children with disabilities.