Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate approved a budget resolution for Fiscal Year 2014. Late Thursday, Harkin spoke on the floor of the Senate in support of the measure. The differences between this resolution and that approved by the U.S. House must now be worked out in conference.
"A budget is a moral document. It sets forth a vision for the kind of country that we want for our people in the years ahead. In this respect, the rival budget resolutions put forward by the Senate and the House offer radically different moral visions. We face a fundamental choice: Are we going to rescue, restore, and rebuild the struggling middle class in this country? Or are we going to continue to shift even more wealth and advantages to those at the top -- at the expense of the middle class? The Senate budget resolution approved today says, loudly and clearly: Our No. 1 priority is to fight for a stronger middle class, even as we dramatically reduce deficits and stabilize the debt by the end of the decade.
"This budget calls for a balanced approach to deficit reduction, both spending cuts and revenue increases. It also locks in significant deficit reduction measures, but phases them in over the longer term to minimize damage to our struggling economy. It rejects harsh austerity in the short run, an approach that that has been so disastrous for economies across Europe. And finally, it takes immediate steps to strengthen the still-fragile economy by making new investments in infrastructure and innovation which, along with support for education, will create a stronger, more competitive economy in the years ahead.
"The American people overwhelmingly favor this kind of balanced approach to deficit reduction. And the good news is that there are many options for raising revenues without lifting tax rates or hurting the middle class. Certainly, we can put an end to expensive loopholes in the tax code that give international companies tax breaks for moving jobs to other countries and that allow wealthy hedge-fund managers to pay a lower tax rate than many teachers and nurses.
"The Senate's budget -- with its balanced approach, its emphasis on bolstering the middle class -- stands in stark contrast to the Republican Tea Party budget approved by the U.S. House, which presents a radically unbalanced approach. It dismantles Medicare and Medicaid. It repeals the new health reform law, stripping more than 30 million non-elderly Americans of the prospect of health coverage. It concentrates two-thirds of its spending cuts on programs serving the middle class and working families.
"The same budget that demands radical budget cuts from the middle class and the poor, insists on a new bonanza of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. The top two percent -- the very people whose incomes have skyrocketed in recent years -- would see their tax rate reduced from 39.6 percent to a new rate of just 25 percent.
"As the differences in these two resolutions are worked out in the coming days, I hope that compromise, commonsense, and good-faith negotiations will be used to address our budget challenges in a way that strengthens our economy and rebuilds the middle class."