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Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chair, I rise in strong opposition to H. Con. Res. 25, the House Republicans' ``Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year 2014.'' I oppose this irresponsible budget resolution because it continues the reckless approach to fiscal policy that that the House majority championed for years, with disastrous results.

I oppose the resolution before us because it favors the wealthy over middle class families and those struggling to enter or remain in the middle class. I oppose the resolution because it asks major sacrifices of seniors who can barely make ends meet, and fundamentally alters the social contract in our America by turning Medicaid into a block grant.

I cannot and will not support a resolution that attempts to balance the budget on the backs of seniors, children, the poor, or mortgages the future by failing to make the investments needed to sustain economic growth and opportunity for all Americans.

Mr. Chair, we Democrats have a better way. We understand that we are all in this together and that our current economic situation calls for a balanced approach between increased revenues and responsible reduction in expenditures. Our plan will protect and strengthen our recovering economy, reduce the deficit in a responsible way, while continuing to invest in the things that make our country strong like education, health care, innovation, and clean energy.

Mr. Chair, this Republican budget is bad for America but it is disastrous for the people from my home state of Texas who sent me here to advocate for their interests. Let me highlight a few examples.

1. If the Republican budget resolution were to become the basis of federal fiscal policy, 3,435,336 Texas seniors would be forced out of traditional Medicare and into a voucher program. Under the Republican plan to end Medicare as we know it, beginning in 2024 all Texas seniors will receive a voucher instead of guaranteed benefits under traditional Medicare.

2. For the 3,435,336 Texans aged 45-54, the value of their vouchers would be capped at growth levels that are lower than the projected increases in health care costs. Previous analyses showed that this type of plan would cut future spending by $5,900 per senior, forcing them to spend more out of pocket and diminishing their access to quality care.

3. Additionally, private insurance plans will aggressively pursue the healthiest, least expensive enrollees, thereby allowing Medicare--currently the lifeline for 3,187,332 Texas seniors--to ``wither on the vine.''

4. If the Republican budget resolution were to adopted by Congress, 206,304 Texas seniors would pay more for prescription drugs next year. The Republican plan would reopen the ``donut hole,'' forcing seniors to pay the full cost of their prescription drugs if their yearly drug expenses are more than $2,970 for the year. Seniors reaching the prescription drug ``donut hole'' would pay an average of $828 more in prescription drug costs in 2014 and approximately $13,000 more from now through 2022.

5. Under the Republican budget, 2,445,462 Texas seniors would be forced to pay for preventive health services. By repealing health reform, the Republican plan will require that the 2,445,462 Texas seniors who utilized free preventive services currently covered by Medicare in 2012 will face increased costs in the form of higher deductibles, co-insurance, and copayments for certain services, including even cancer screenings and annual wellness visits.

6. The Republican budget slashes $31.71 billion in nursing home care and other health care services for 754,500 Texas seniors and disabled who currently rely on Medicaid for their long-term care needs.

7. The draconian cuts included in the Republican budget would have a devastating impact on the 1,191 certified nursing homes in Texas that serve 91,717 seniors, with more than half relying on Medicaid as their primary payer. As a result, nursing homes would be forced to slash services, turn away seniors, or close their doors.

Mr. Chair, this budget could have invested in programs that help strengthen the middle class, reduce poverty, and strengthen our economic recovery. Instead, the Republican budget makes deep cuts to the area of the budget helping low-income families put food on the table and make ends meet. These are families who are already struggling with unemployment, lower wages, and just simply trying to make ends meet.

The House Republican budget will push millions more Americans into poverty and put a large number of low-income children, seniors, and people with disabilities at risk. It guts Medicare and Medicaid and calls for massive cuts to food assistance, all in order to protect tax breaks for special interests and for multimillionaires who are not even asking for them.

The Republican budget may be characterized in many ways--cruel, irresponsible, short-sighted, reckless--but ``fair and balanced'' is not one of them.

In contrast, the alternative budgets proposed by the Democratic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and Congressional Progressive Caucus, which were made in order by the Rules Committee, are each worthy of support because they fairly balance the need for increased revenues and responsible reductions in expenditures with the imperative of making the necessary investments in human capital required to move our country forward.

Specifically, the Alternative Budgets proposed by the Democratic Caucus, CBC, and CPC:

help create more jobs now;

replace the sequester;

make key education investments;

invest in research and development and clean energy;

invest in long-term infrastructure;

preserve Medicare as we know it;

protect health reform's benefits for seniors;

protect Medicaid for seniors in nursing homes;

preserve Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP);

reduce the deficit through a smart, targeted, and steady approach provides tax relief for working families and ends tax breaks for the wealthy;

take a balanced approach to reducing the long-term deficits and debt; and

put the budget on a sustainable path.

Mr. Chair, under the Democratic budget, the deficit would fall from 7 percent of GDP in 2012 to under 3 percent of GDP by 2015, and to 2.4 percent of GDP in 2023. The balanced plan put forward by the Democratic Caucus will bring the budget into primary balance in 2017 and complete balance by around 2040--about the same time as the House Republican budget last year.

The Democratic Budget Alternative will generate 1.2 million more jobs this year compared to the Republicans' ``austerity first'' plan by investing $200 billion in creating jobs up-front, strengthening the middle class, creating greater upward mobility, and ensuring opportunity for our children and future generations.

Included in the Democratic proposal is $50 billion to fund jobs that address immediate surface transportation priorities and $10 billion to establish an infrastructure bank, as well as tax incentives to support small businesses and manufacturing.

Additionally, the Democratic budget immediately ends the sequester, which would otherwise cost the economy 750,000 jobs by the end of the year, and replaces it with deficit reduction resulting from a balanced approach combining responsible spending cuts with increased revenues by cutting tax breaks for special interests and wealthy individuals without increasing the tax burden on middle-income Americans.

Finally, Mr. Chair, as a senior member of the Committee on the Judiciary, let me note my disappointment that an amendment I offered which would have made this dreadful budget resolution a little less hurtful was not made in order by the Committee on Rules.

The Jackson Lee Amendment to H. Con. Res. 25 would put the Congress on record in support of current funding levels for crime prevention grant programs administered by the Department of Justice. The first and most important obligation of government is to ensure the safety of the people and nothing is more destabilizing to communities and inimical to job creation and economic growth than crime. That is why it is counterproductive to cut investments in crime prevention under the guise of balancing a budget to spur economic growth.

It is said often, Mr. Chair, but is no less true, that the federal budget is more than a financial document; it is an expression of the nation's most cherished values. As the late and great former senator and Vice-President Hubert Humphrey said:

[End Insert]

``The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in shadows of life, the sick, the needy, and the handicapped.''

[Begin Insert]

For that reason that in evaluating the merits of a budget resolution, it is not enough to subject it only to the test of fiscal responsibility. To keep faith with the nation's past, to be fair to the nation's present, and to safeguard the nation's future, the budget must also pass a ``moral test.''

The Republican budget resolution fails both of these standards. The Democratic alternatives do not. For these compelling reasons, I stand in strong opposition to H. Con. Res. 25 and urge my colleagues to join me in voting against this ill-conceived and unwise measure.


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