CONCURRENT RESOLUTION ON THE BUDGET FOR FISCAL YEAR 2006 -- (House of Representatives - March 17, 2005)
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Mr. DINGELL. Mr. Chairman, I will oppose this ill-advised budget proposal and I urge my colleagues to join me. Every year, we set our priorities through our budget. The priorities in this budget are all wrong. Our priorities should focus on helping those who need help before we begin to help those who don't. However, although we may not all agree with these concerns, one priority which we can all agree on is that we must reduce the deficit. Incredibly, the proposal before us does absolutely nothing to accomplish this goal. Despite all the assurances I have heard from my colleagues and the Administration, this legislation actually increases the deficit!
With record deficit levels, how is it possible that the majority has completely ignored fiscal responsibility? By passing tax givebacks, over half of which go to households earning over $1 million--that's 0.2 percent of the population. Although many of us find this appalling, unfortunately, it has become predictable behavior of the majority party.
How can we justify this fiscal recklessness to our children and grandchildren? How can we justify it to hard-working Americans who live paycheck to paycheck, unable to save money for emergencies or even just to see the doctor? Can we honestly look them in the eye and tell them that we are more concerned with millionaires and billionaires than with struggling middle-class Americans, brave soldiers, the sick, the poor and the hungry? I, for one, dread the thought. Yet, that is the message this budget sends. And, although my colleagues try to cloud its destruction with their transparent gimmicks, the message shines through crystal clear.
The resolution before us provides for total tax giveaways of $106 billion over five years. Every child in America knows that you must save first before you splurge. They know that they must patiently fill their piggy banks with coins until they have enough to buy that toy they have been eyeing for weeks.
My colleagues do not seem to understand this common notion of balancing income and spending. They continue to splurge on our national credit card, racking up astronomical bills which our children and grandchildren will be obliged to pay. Soon they will ask for their fourth credit increase in four years, to enable the continuation of this reckless abuse of hard-earned taxpayer dollars.
The pay-as-you-go rule, or PAYGO, would solve the issue of unlimited spending by requiring new spending to be offset in other areas of the budget. Again, common sense would dictate that tax giveaways, totaling $106 billion over five years, would count as new spending. The money is being removed from the country's revenue without replacement. The PAYGO rule would essentially require us to stop and think about how we are going to pay for things before we hastily enact them and end up in this ill-fated fiscal jam. Not surprisingly, however, many of my collegues have insisted on exempting the billions of dollars in tax givebacks from the PAYGO rule. They do so without an explanation of how they plan to restore the lost revenue. There is no good reason, particularly when we are running record deficits, to reject the very successful practice we used in the 1990's to produce record surpluses.
Unlike the federal government, states are not permitted to spend without restraint. States cannot run up their credit card bills or repeatedly increase their credit limits. Yet, this budget increases the financial burden on the states. The federal government has an agreement with the states--we will help pay for programs which we mandate--programs vital to America, including education, healthcare and job training. And we have been successful in our partnership with the states, ensuring that millions of Americans are able to go to school, to the doctor and to work.
However, in their spending schemes, my Republican colleagues neglect our obligation to the states. More and more, states are picking up the tab for unpaid federal bills.
At a time when states are struggling under the burden of Medicare cost shifts and a growing number of uninsured, I find it particularly disturbing that the Republicans have chosen to cut funding for Medicaid--a critical safety net for our most vulnerable citizens.
The Republicans are specifically proposing to cut an unprecedented $60 billion from the program, which is the equivalent of completely eliminating the Children's Health Insurance Program over 10 years.
These cuts would roll back health care coverage and protections for millions of Americans including the elderly in nursing homes, individuals with disabilities, infants and working families. Also, hospitals, physicians and other safety net providers will face payment reductions threatening their viability--and these reductions will mean more lost jobs in our communities.
The assault on the environment also continues, including a massive, unjustified cut to the Superfund program. The Inspector General has identified, and senior EPA officials have acknowledged, that in FY2003 there was a funding shortfall of $174.9 million, and it has been widely reported that the funding shortfall for FY2004 reached approximately $250 million. This leaves dozens of highly contaminated Superfund sites where cleanups are being delayed due to inadequate funding. Public health is endangered and local economic redevelopment hurt, yet this budget irresponsibly seeks to reduce cleanup funding.
These are just two examples of critical programs this budget neglects and two examples of why I will oppose this legislation and I urge my colleagues to vote no on the Republican budget.
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