Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

By:  Jim Cooper
Date: March 28, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COOPER. I thank the gentlelady for yielding.

Unfortunately, this is one of the most partisan weeks in Washington as each side presents its own budget. I urge Members to weigh these budgets very carefully. Unfortunately, we have very little time to do so. The entire debate for the Republican and Democrat budgets is some 4 hours. There will be many alternative budgets presented.

The one that I am most interested in, the Simpson-Bowles-endorsed budget, will come up later tonight, which is a big schedule change since it hadn't been expected until tomorrow. We will have a total of 10 minutes to explain the only bipartisan budget that will be offered. There are six or seven budgets being offered, but there is only one that is bipartisan. There are many excellent features in the Democratic budget and in the Republican budget, but there is only one that has the support of folks on both sides of the aisle.

I hope that Members choose carefully even in this, the most partisan of weeks, because it's almost a David versus Goliath situation when you have 10 minutes versus 4 hours. I hope that Members will look at the details of these budgets and will realize that hidden in the details are lots of massive changes to lots of massive programs. Yet, if we don't let ideology control, if we look at the basics and realize that America does have a deficit and debt problem, as the White House acknowledges and as our Republican friends acknowledge, if we respect each other and understand that we have to have real revenues and entitlement reform, there is still really only one plan that offers both. I did not originate it, but I'm thankful that Simpson and Bowles, with their report of a year and a half ago, introduced such a plan. Tonight, later in the debate, in an hour or two, Members will have the first opportunity in either the House or the Senate to consider that.

So these are very important issues that we're facing. I wish it were not a David and Goliath sort of situation. It's almost like David versus two Goliaths, because the institutional infrastructure in Washington supporting either the Republican budget or the Democratic budget is massive.

I think that once you look at the fundamentals, you see that there has got to be a way in which Americans can work together. The folks I hear from back home--and I assume it's true in every State--want us to stop the partisan bickering and want to us work together. I am thankful that our Republican friends allowed the Simpson-Bowles bipartisan budget to be considered, but for Members to only have 10 minutes of debate to consider it is going to be very difficult.

So I'm hopeful that Members, as they're sitting in their offices tonight, as they're interrupting their dinners, as they're contemplating these issues, will focus not only on the important Joint Economic Committee issues that have been raised by both sides this evening but that they will also focus on the details of the budgets they're about to vote on.

We had anticipated that the vote on the Simpson-Bowles alternative would be tomorrow morning, which is what we had been told, but an hour or so ago, they suddenly had a change of plans. We feel that we're gaining momentum, and I think that's evidenced by the fact that most folks of the interest groups in Washington are gearing up to either support us or to oppose us, so I think that Members should weigh their decisions tonight very carefully.


Mr. COOPER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I have the honor tonight of representing the budget that is endorsed by Simpson and Bowles. This is the only bipartisan budget that the House of Representatives will be able to consider in this budget cycle. This is the first time that a Simpson-Bowles budget has been allowed on the floor of the House or the Senate. This is a historic night, and I hope that Members will appreciate this opportunity.

This is one of the most partisan weeks in Washington, and this is the only bipartisan way to solve the Nation's problems. This is the only budget that has a chance of getting through both the House and the Senate. I hope Members will appreciate this opportunity.

Members have expressed interest, but in this partisan week, we've been hammered by forces on both the left and the right, people who do not want America to solve its problems in a sensible and fair manner.

To illustrate what we're doing here, the Wall Street Journal today had a graph of the different budget alternatives.

The top line here is assuming current policies. It is clear trouble for the Nation because we're not reducing the deficit.

The blue line here is the White House budget, which makes considerable progress in solving our problems.

The bottom line here is the GOP plan, which is tough and completely partisan.

There's not a single Democrat in the country that will support that. So it's a budget to nowhere. It's a bridge to nowhere.

In between the White House budget and the GOP plan is the bipartisanship proposal, the Simpson-Bowles-endorsed budget. It's very tough on deficits, it gets the job done, and it gets the job done in a bipartisan fashion.

I hope my colleagues will focus on this budget alternative. We have precious few minutes to debate this, a total of 15 minutes, when the other side had 4 hours. This is a David versus Goliath situation. But I hope not only Members of this body will pay attention, but the public back home, because they want us to solve our problems in a peaceable and fair fashion. They're tired of political bickering. We have the chance in this House tonight to stop the political bickering and pass a good, tough, and fair budget for America.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.


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