Ms. BONAMICI. Mr. Chair, I rise today in support of the Democratic budget alternative offered by Ranking Member Van Hollen, and I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be heard on this important issue. Today I am supporting the Van Hollen Budget and opposing the budget blueprint laid out by Budget Committee Chairman Ryan. The Van Hollen budget acknowledges the concerns that have been expressed to us loudly and clearly by constituents since sequestration took effect March 1st; the Ryan budget exacerbates the problems caused by across-the-board cuts and attempts to recycle ideas that the American people have repeatedly rejected.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, half of our current budget deficit is attributable to high unemployment and lagging economic growth. The approach taken by Chairman Ryan's budget would make the problem worse by cutting investments in education, research, and infrastructure. Implementing this kind of harmful austerity approach will handicap our fledgling economic recovery. The budget I voted for makes strategic cuts, closes tax loopholes, and lays a foundation for economic growth going forward. And perhaps most importantly, the Van Hollen budget ends the damaging sequester and puts our country on a sustainable fiscal path without ending the guarantee of Medicare.
In the months preceding our self-imposed March 1st deadline, sequestration was a central theme in almost every conversation I had with constituents. I spoke with researchers at universities across Oregon who expressed concern about the impact cuts would have on scientific advancement, business leaders who told me they had not hired new workers because of the uncertainty caused by sequestration, and teachers who worried about cuts to vital special education programs. Oregonians, like most Americans, do not support this detrimental approach to policymaking.
In the weeks following the implementation of the sequester, my offices in Oregon and here in Washington, DC continue to hear numerous additional stories of the hardships brought about by budget uncertainty. For those who rightly raise concern, the budget proposed by Chairman Ryan is another example of DC putting politics over solutions. My constituents want fiscal responsibility from their elected officials; not a budget balanced on the back of the working class and the elderly.
Congress has reduced projected deficits by about $2.7 trillion since August 2010 by cutting discretionary spending, 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 Ranking Member Van Hollen's budget and the total deficit reduction achieved to date meets the $4 trillion goal set forth by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission. Further, the Van Hollen alternative I am supporting today achieves this deficit reduction without implementing the Ryan budget's Medicare voucher plan, while also preserving the Affordable Care Act reforms that currently provide seniors with reduced prescription drug costs and free preventive health care.
Our constituents sent us here to solve the problems created by our predecessors, not to make them worse. The Van Hollen budget alternative puts us on the road to economic recovery while preserving the social safety net. For this reason I am proud to support it.