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Blue Dog Coalition

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

BLUE DOG COALITION -- (House of Representatives - February 06, 2007)


Mr. COOPER. I thank my good friend from Arkansas, and I thank my Blue Dog colleagues.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to focus for a minute on the release of the President's budget. As has been mentioned, it just came out yesterday, and today, as a member of the Budget Committee, we had our first hearing with Rob Portman, the director of the Office of Management and Budget and former trade ambassador and former Member of this House.

This is what a part the budget looks like. It is available online. It is about 150, 200 pages. This looks like a very credible document. But that is what I would like to discuss today.

One of the first claims in this budget is in the second paragraph, it says: ``The budget I am presenting achieves balance by 2012.'' Hallelujah. Wouldn't that be nice, if it were true.

Now, if you look deeper in the budget, you will see that they claim, after years of deficits in the Bush administration, remember, we had a surplus in the last 3 years of the Clinton administration, but after years of Bush deficits, they claim that by mid-term of the next President, we will have a surplus. Well, that would be good news if it were true. They claim that the surplus in that year will be $61 billion. And I hope that a number like that would be true.

But if you look at page 168 of their document, you will see that that $61 billion surplus is really a $187 billion deficit disguised by borrowing $248 billion from the Social Security trust fund. In other words, we would have a sizeable, large deficit if it weren't for the money they are planning on taking from the Social Security trust fund in that year.

And this isn't just a once-a-year practice. They are planning on doing it every year between now and then. In 2007 they took $183 billion from Social Security. In 2008 they are taking $212 billion from Social Security. In 2009 they are taking $226 billion from Social Security. In 2010, $245 billion from Social Security. And in 2011, $264 billion.

So, basically, what this budget says, although it looks very respectable and credible, it says we are going to take over $1 trillion, close to $1.25 trillion from Social Security so we can disguise the budget deficit and make it look like a surplus 5 years from now. Mr. Speaker, that doesn't sound like honest budgeting to me.

But don't take my word for it. Look at this other document. This came out about a month ago. This is from the U.S. Treasury Department. This uses a different and better method of accounting to tell us where we are financially in this country. And it says, basically, we are at deficits as far as the eye can see. And the deficits are far, far larger than what the President admits to in this document.

But even if you don't believe any of these government documents, either the President's or the Treasury Department's, look at a private sector organization called Standard & Poor's. They are on Wall Street. They are probably the top credit analyst agency in the world. They projected this last summer that the U.S. Treasury Bond, the most important financial instrument on the planet, would lose its triple A credit rating by the year 2012, just 5 years from now.

So in other words, S&P, the leading credit analyst, said that although this document says we are going to have a surplus then, they say we are going to have continuing deficits as far as the eye can see, in fact, deficits that damage and possibly destroy America's credit rating.

Standard & Poor's went on to say in their analysis, they said that by the year 2025 the U.S. Treasury Bond wouldn't have just lost its triple A credit rating. They say that the U.S. Treasury Bond would actually become junk debt by the year 2025. Below investment grade. That would be a true tragedy for our Nation. We cannot let that happen. And that is why we need to examine the credibility of the numbers in this document. We need to make sure that they are correct.

And if you look at the assumptions in this document, you will see not only trouble with the terrific borrowing they are planning on doing from the Social Security surplus; you will see trouble in the fact that they are planning on the AMT tax taking a bigger and bigger bite out of the middle class in America for the next 4 or 5 years. They do nothing to remedy that in this document.

There are so many other features of this document that make it almost completely unrealistic as a starting point for our budget debates.

Mr. Speaker, we have a lot of work to do. It is not easy putting together budgets. I have done it because I had the privilege of serving back in the majority days, over 12 years ago here. It is a very difficult process to come up with a proper budget. But that must begin now. And I would just wish that the President's offering were going to be of more help to us. It is not all bad. There are some good elements of the President's budget. But if you look at the overall promise of a balanced budget by 2012, I am not sure anyone in the administration really believes that. It is here on paper, and it sounds mighty good. But if you look at the assumptions underneath it, whether it is borrowing from Social Security or whether it is taking the big bite out of the middle class with the AMT tax, it looks like the President's budget is not standing up to scrutiny.

But I thank my friend from Arkansas. I thank my Blue Dog colleagues. This is the day that we start the budget debates. Over the next 2 months we will be trying to bring this to a conclusion.

I hope that all Americans will download these documents off the Internet, will participate in the debate, and let me and other Blue Dogs know your opinions on what we should do on those budget matters.


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