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Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CUMMINGS. I want to thank the gentlelady for yielding.

Over the past 3 years, nearly 6 million new jobs have been added to the American economy, and the unemployment rate has fallen to 7.7 percent. Although this is real progress from where we were during the financial crisis inherited by President Obama, we can do far more to boost economic growth and continue to create jobs.

The American people deserve a budget that supports economic growth, responsibly reduces long-term deficits, and ensures equal opportunity for all. Chairman Ryan's recent budget does not satisfy any of these goals. Instead, it will slow economic growth, increase the unemployment rate, cut critical investments in our Nation's future, and harm our seniors, all while protecting the interests of the wealthiest Americans.

The Ryan budget would lower the top tax rate for the rich while hitting middle-class families with thousands of dollars in additional taxes every year. Nearly 30 million middle-income Americans would lose their health insurance because of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and tens of millions of the poorest would lose coverage because of Ryan's plan to gut Medicaid. We can do better.

It would destroy the commitments we've made to our Nation's seniors by turning Medicare into a voucher program. It would shift the rising costs of health care onto those very Americans who have already suffered deep financial shocks in the recent fiscal crisis. Many of them have lost their homes, lost their health insurance, lost their jobs, lost equity in their homes, lost their savings, and now the Ryan budget would break another promise to them.

In a fairly cynical move, the Ryan budget would repeal those provisions of the Affordable Care Act that would expand access to care, while keeping in place all the revenue generated by the act.

The Ryan budget also guts investments in science, education, infrastructure--all critical to job creation and economic growth, as well as to the future of our children. If you don't believe it, go talk to the doctors at NIH, the ones who worry about whether they'll be able to complete the research that they're doing. One that I talked to just a few days ago was telling me just a few years ago there were certain types of cancers that were deadly, and now because of the research at NIH, they're chronic. I don't know how you put a price tag on somebody's life.

This budget would reduce non-defense discretionary spending, including core social services that middle-class families rely on, by an additional $700 billion over the next 10 years below the senseless cuts already required under the sequester.

And his plan, Mr. Ryan's plan, repeats past attacks on Federal employees by cutting the workforce by 10 percent over the next decade and requiring Federal workers to contribute an additional $132 billion to their retirement plans.

To justify these proposals, the majority continues to argue that policies that support austerity, such as sequestration, will solve our fiscal problems and magically create prosperity for all. In fact, these stale theories will do nothing but harm hardworking Americans and our seniors, and that is why the American people resoundingly rejected this theory just this past November, not very long ago.

Last week, the Joint Economic Committee convened a hearing to examine constructive measures to stabilize our economy and decrease our long-term Federal debt. Testifying before our committee was Alice Rivlin, very well respected, who served as the founding Director of the Congressional Budget Office, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Federal Reserve Vice Chair. She explained that discretionary spending is not a driver of future deficits and that cutting discretionary spending would not slow projected increases in future Federal spending. Instead, Ms. Rivlin expressed concern that additional cuts at this time would have a restraining effect--those were her words--on our economic recovery, threatening to trigger a new recession. We can do better than that.

Similarly, the Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke has warned many times over the past few years that pursuing deep cuts in the short-term will slow the rate of economic growth, bring down revenues, and actually lead to less deficit reduction overall. I didn't say that, Chairman Bernanke said that.

Certainly, I agree that Congress must act to put our fiscal house in order, but we must do this in a balanced manner that increases economic stability and certainty in the marketplace. To ensure economic growth, these policies must include a mixture of appropriate revenue increases and targeted spending cuts.

I don't think there's one Member of Congress that disagrees that we must cut spending, but we also must address our fiscal issues in a balanced way. And when we cut, we must cut as if we were the most skilled heart surgeon performing the most delicate operation on a critical patient so that the patient does not die.

To that end, Democrats have put forward a balanced approach to cut spending responsibly, increase revenues and create jobs, like Congressman Van Hollen's plan and Senator Murray's plan, which achieve new significant savings by eliminating tax loopholes and cutting wasteful spending.

The CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. I grant the gentleman as much time as he may consume.

Mr. CUMMINGS. At the same time, they continue critical investments in infrastructure, education, job training, innovation, all of which will help to strengthen long-term economic growth.

The fastest and most effective way to stabilize the economy and reduce deficits is to put Americans back to work. That is why we need to strengthen the fiscal policies that will support growth, rather than adopting policies that will destroy jobs.

Finally, the only path forward is for Democrats and Republicans to work together to draft a reasonable budget that offers hope and prosperity for all Americans, rather than tax cuts for the rich and crumbs to the rest.

I urge my colleagues to reject the Ryan budget so that we can craft a budget that works for all Americans.


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