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Cooper Opposes Deficit-Increasing Republican Budget

Location: Washington, DC

NOVEMBER 18, 2005

-Says now is time to listen to Greenspan and return to 'living within our means'

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Pointing out that the Republican-backed budget reconciliation package significantly increases the federal deficit, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper voted against the bill last night. The package, which also does nothing to rein in the current out-of-control spending of the Republican-led Congress and calls for cuts that threaten vital government services and programs, narrowly passed the House of Representatives.

"I'm against larger deficits and when you look at the Republican reconciliation package, all it will really do is give us a larger deficit," Cooper said. "We're facing a record $8 trillion national debt. We owe it to our children and our grandchildren to stop the irresponsible spending and to bring some accountability to the budget process."

A member of the House Budget Committee, Cooper said now is the time to listen to Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. "Greenspan has asked that we reinstitute the 'pay-as-you-go' policy where you pay for what you want in government, but this Republican majority has refused to bring it back. Every American family has to figure out how to pay for what they need yet the Republican-led Congress just keeps adding to the deficit to pay for what it wants."

Pay-as-you-go was the requirement in Congress from 1990 to 2002 when the Republicans let it expire. "We need to bring it back so that all new spending programs are paid for and so that tax cuts are paid for," Cooper said. "That's the best way to live within your means and not be dangerously dependent on Chinese borrowing as we are today." The U.S. now borrows $1 billion from the Chinese every morning.

In addition, Cooper said cuts called for in the Republican package threaten vital government services and programs that help Americas' most vulnerable, especially children, seniors, students and victims of Hurricane Katrina. The bill includes deep cuts to foster care, food stamps, Medicaid, and student loan programs, among others. It also fails to protect working families from expected record increases in home energy costs by failing to fully fund the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for 2006.

"The Republican reconciliation package does not reflect the priorities of our country," Cooper said. "It cuts Medicaid programs by $9.5 billion and this year, as we're facing a winter where home heating prices are expected to soar, seniors and working families who count on the help provided by LIHEAP may see that help cut back."

In addition, Cooper said he is concerned about the cuts to student loan programs included in the Republican bill. "Under this plan, the typical student borrower would face as much as $5,800 more in loan fees next year," Cooper added. "Our students are facing an increasingly competitive global marketplace for the best jobs and we need to make sure we are doing our best to prepare them for success."

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