Carper Says Bush Budget Unrealistic
Budget Would Hurt Families, Infrastructure, But Do Little to Reduce Deficits
Despite the president's assertions that his new budget would attempt to rein in government spending to reduce the deficit, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said today that the plan would do little to balance the federal budget. Instead, Carper said the president would cut programs like education and Amtrak in order to pay for his tax cut agenda and plans to privatize Social Security.
"No one has fought harder for fiscal responsibility than I have, and I'd be prepared to support an austere plan if it was a serious attempt to balance the budget. But this doesn't get the job done," said Carper, who was awarded in 2003 the Concord Coalition's distinction as one of the top-five most fiscally-responsible senators. "I'm disappointed that President Bush has chosen to cut spending for transportation, education and health care in the name of deficit reduction, yet he continues to call for spending trillions of dollars to privatize Social Security and pass more tax cuts. The president's budget simply doesn't reflect the values of our country, and it would do more harm than good if enacted."
Among the cuts that would hurt Delaware the most, according to Carper:
Funding for Amtrak is completely eliminated in the president's budget, and no money is provided for rail security. Rather than fully funding the bipartisan education reform initiative that Democrats helped the president pass in his first year in office, the president's budget underfunds it by 30 percent. Medicaid, which helps low-income workers pay for health care and nursing home costs, is cut by more than $50 billion over 10 years. The president cuts first responder aid to the states by more than half and eliminates the "small state minimum" program which guarantees that states like Delaware are able to secure the funds they need to prepare for potential terrorist attacks. Clean water funds are cut by almost a third, which will hurt the ability of cities like Wilmington to address sewer overflow problems.
When combined, the spending cuts the president touts as putting us on the path toward reducing the deficit by half amounts to a very small piece of the federal budget pie - about $15 billion, out of a $2.3 trillion budget. But the federal budget deficit continues to hover at more than $400 billion a year, and the president has proposed spending trillions of dollars on Social Security privatization and making his tax cuts permanent. The ongoing cost of the military operation in Iraq also remains uncertain. Carper said the numbers don't add up and it would be impossible to balance the budget under the president's proposal.
"The president has proposed a budget that imposes a lot of pain on a lot of people, yet he still doesn't come close to bringing the deficit under control," said Carper. "In fact, if the president has his way, the deficit will get worse, not better."
Carper encouraged President Bush to adopt a more global view of the federal budget and work with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to adopt a serious balanced budget plan, like the one that was passed in 1997 under President Clinton.
"It wasn't easy, but the president and Congress worked together in the 1990s to balance the budget. We made some tough choices and stuck to them," said Carper. "It's my hope that the president would reach out to Congress and together, we could come up with a more realistic plan than what the president has proposed today."