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Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2006

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


CONCURRENT RESOLUTION ON THE BUDGET FOR FISCAL YEAR 2006 -- (House of Representatives - March 16, 2005)

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Mr. KIND. Mr. Chairman, I thank my friend from South Carolina for yielding me this time, and I also want to thank him and commend him for the leadership that he has shown during the course of the Budget Committee work and for the alternative Democratic substitute which we will talk about a little bit later today.

Mr. Chairman, there are few moments during the legislative year here in Congress which really defines who we are as a Congress, who we are as a Nation and where we are going with our priorities. It is one of these moments today when we have a discussion about our budgets and the priorities that we place in the budget.

For some reason, the Republican budget that we have before us only is budgeted for 5 years rather than the typical 10 years. I submit that one of the reasons I think they are doing a 5-year budget instead of a 10-year budget is because of the complete breakdown in fiscal responsibility and what the costs of their budget will entail and the explosion of budget deficits in the second 5 years that they do not want to talk about during the course of these next couple of days during the budget. We, on the other hand, will be presenting a Democratic alternative, one that does, I believe, reflect the values and the priorities that we share as Americans in this Nation.

Our budget will reinstate the pay-as-you-go rules to instill budget discipline again in the decisions that we are making in these budgets. We achieve a balanced budget under our plan by 2012, just when the massive baby boom retirement wave really starts to hit, and we protect important investments, in defense, in veterans' programs, education and health care to keep America strong and to help us grow the economy and create jobs. By reinstating the pay-as-you-go rules, we will be in a better fiscal position to better preserve and protect the long-term solvency of the Social Security program.

What this chart demonstrates next to me is the result of budget decisions over the last 14 to 15 years. This green line which shows an upward trend that resulted in 4 consecutive years of budget surpluses is Congress operating under pay-as-you-go rules. The red lines that show the plummeting of the surpluses into historically large budget deficits shows Congress without pay-as-you-go rules. What is hard to understand about reinstituting pay-as-you-go rules as part of budget discipline and decisions that we have to make to right the fiscal ship again?

With pay-as-you-go rules, it gave us 4 years of budget surpluses, 2 in which the Congress was not raiding the Social Security Trust Fund and using that money for large tax cuts or other spending priorities and enabled us to start reducing the national debt which was an incredible economic dynamic at the end of the 1990s.

This chart demonstrates the current raid on the Social Security Trust Fund under the Bush administration. Every dime in surplus that is being run in the Social Security account right now is being diverted, to help finance large cuts for the most wealthy or to help finance large new spending programs, a 30 percent increase in Federal spending over the last few years alone. That will continue throughout the duration when we are running surpluses in the Social Security Trust Fund under their budget proposal. What this has meant was increased borrowing cost, year after year after year having to raise the debt ceiling in order to finance the breakdown in fiscal discipline in this place.

Why is this important today? It is important because we do not owe this debt to ourselves anymore. Ninety percent of the new debt that was purchased this last year alone is being purchased by foreign countries, Japan, the number one purchaser, soon to be surpassed by China as the number one holder of our debt.

I do not believe, and Democrats do not believe, it is in our best long-term economic interest to be so dependent on foreign interests to be financing these deficits.

The President has been out campaigning on a new Social Security plan lately. It is kind of tough to engage in a meaningful discussion since he has not offered a detailed proposal; but from what we understand, he is calling for massive new borrowing in order to set up these privatized accounts that he is fond of. In fact, Social Security runs a deficit of $3.7 trillion over the next 75 years. What the President is proposing to do is to borrow $5 trillion for these transition costs to set up private accounts over the first 20 years alone in order to fix a $3.7 trillion problem. And that is probably one of the reasons why he is having such a hard time selling his plan out in Middle America. People know intuitively with this massive new borrowing that it is going to hurt economic growth prospects for our Nation; it is going to jeopardize our children and grandchildren's future by leaving a large legacy of debt for them. That is why, once we can get past the whole idea of privatizing the Social Security system, we can try to get together as Americans and work on a bipartisan solution that will be fiscally responsible and that will keep the promise to future generations.

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Mr. KIND. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.

I have a great deal of respect for the chairman of the Committee on the Budget. He is a friend of mine. He has got a tough job, trying to bring forth a budget priority that reflects his caucus's wishes in that.

But let us set the facts straight here. The Democratic alternative does a lot better when it comes to support of the education programs than our Republican counterpart. We also in our budget proposal reinstitute the pay-as-you-go rules so that if we are proposing a spending increase or a tax cut in one area, we are going to find an offset in the budget to pay for it. Their budget does not do it.

Our budget is also out for 10 years that shows that we come to balance by 2012. Their budget is a 5-year proposal. And the reason they do not do it at 10 years is because their deficits explode in the second 5 years. But their budget has also hidden the true and real cuts that are occurring in their education programs, ones that affect real people, real students in real-life conditions and will not help improve the condition of education or access to higher education, which we desperately need in this country.

Their budget proposal actually calls for eliminating $4.3 billion worth of education programs in the next fiscal year alone. They completely wipe out vocational education, the Federal commitment to that. They completely wipe out all the Federal education technology programs that exist. They wipe out the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Grant program. They also get rid of TRIO and GEAR UP, targeting low-income students who want to go on to post-secondary education opportunities. They wipe out Even Start Family Literacy programs. And their proposals also hurt students by raising fees for student loans for higher education, ending students' ability to consolidate those loans at a lower fixed rate interest, and not only eliminating the Perkins loan program, as the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Spratt) indicated, but also forcing colleges to repay prior Federal Perkins contributions.

The Democratic alternative is better than that. We restore these funding cuts as well as $4.5 billion in the next fiscal year alone. Talk to any administrator, any teacher throughout the country wrestling with implementing the unfunded Federal mandate called No Child Left Behind, and they will say what these requirements are doing to their school districts with the lack of funding to back up those requirements. Talk to special education teachers, and they will say how the lack of education commitment at the Federal level, only 18.6 percent of the 40 percent cost share that we promised for special education funding is pitting student against student in our public classrooms throughout the country.

We can do a better job. The Democratic alternative does do a better job, while staying true to fiscal discipline and fiscal responsibility by reinstituting the pay-as-you-go rules that worked very well in the 1990s and led us to 4 years of budget surpluses, while also maintaining a crucial investment in education programs.

As a Member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, I am heading to China in a couple of days in order to visit their colleges and universities. Guess what? China and India are making a major education investment in the future of their countries. They are graduating more engineering students than we are today. They are emphasizing the math and science and engineering programs while we are starting to cut back in these crucial education areas. Do people want a recipe for economic disaster? The Republican budget and their lack of commitment for education is a sure way of getting us there.

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