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Pro-Growth Budgeting Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I thank the gentleman for yielding. I want to thank the vice chair of the Budget Committee for bringing this bill forward and for his hard work on this issue.

Mr. Chairman, this bill is really pretty simple. It will help Members understand how legislation affects the economy. Under current law, the CBO doesn't have to provide that kind of big picture analysis. It usually assumes the economy will stay the same no matter how much in government taxes is spent. Think about that. We all know that that is not true. People respond to incentives. Federal policy changes the economy, and under this administration, the economy has consistently failed to meet expectations.

This is the chart that the CBO has shown over the years where they have consistently lowered their economic outlook. This has had a huge effect on our budget, and it has made balancing the budget that much harder. Traditionally, our economy has grown at about 3 percent a year, but over the past 4 years, it has grown only by 2 percent a year. It has grown less than half the average rate of other recoveries since World War II. The labor force participation rate has fallen to 63 percent. That is close to the lowest level in over 35 years. There are 10.5 million Americans who are now unemployed, and 7.2 million Americans are working part time for economic reasons. Those who are working have seen meager growth in their wages. The typical household income for families has actually declined. In fact, it is at the lowest level since 1995.

This weak recovery isn't something that just happened to us. It is not just by accident. It is clear that now that we are 5 years into this that the President's policies are weighing down the economy and are hurting the budget outlook.

The Congressional Budget Office now expects us to take in much less revenue, and that makes it much harder to balance the budget because of this poor economy. Since just last year, the baseline deficit has grown by $1.2 trillion. The top line shows you last year's estimate, and the bottom red line shows you this year's estimate. Just from last year's estimate of where the economy was heading to this year's estimate of where the economy is heading by the Congressional Budget Office, it tells us there will be $1.2 trillion in more deficits because of these failed economic policies.

We want to stop the failure. We want to get this economy growing. The CBO knows that if you actually have a better policy that actually grows the economy, you will help the budget outlook, and you will help get people back to work. You will help increase take-home pay. Just as a weak economy can drag us into the red, a good budget can push the economy forward. That is why Members need to know this before they vote on legislation. They need to know what the world might look like under a new law. It is common sense to ask how legislation will affect the economy.

This bill requires the CBO to give Members just that estimate. We are asking the CBO to give the same kind of analysis that we use in our own budget. In an analysis provided by the CBO, they find the deficit reduction like we are proposing will help the economy grow. In 2024, economic output will be 1.8 percent higher per person than it otherwise would be. That is about $1,100 per person. That is a pretty crucial piece of information. So we are adding to the toolkit. We are not taking anything away.

To the criticism I am hearing from others that, gosh, you are not doing this on every piece of legislation, you need to do this for the appropriations process, do you have any idea how many thousands of estimates come from the Appropriations Committee? If you actually gummed up the works like that, you would bring this place and the estimating agencies to a screeching halt. That is why there is an important threshold that is for significant pieces of legislation, legislation that is a quarter a point of the economy or higher, so that we can be well informed on big pieces of fiscal policy and so that we don't gum up the works and bring this agency and this institution to a screeching halt.

We think this hits the fine balance between the two. We think it is important that Members of Congress have a sense of how their votes will be affecting the economy. That is only common sense, and I urge the adoption of this bill.

I thank the gentleman from Georgia for actually bringing this to our attention.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I thank the vice chairman for his time.

Looking at the amendment, it makes sense. It looks like the right thing to do. I think it is important that we always reassess these models to make sure that we are getting it right. People call this dynamic scoring. I like to call it reality-based scoring, and we always want to have a better measurement of reality. So I think the gentleman's amendment makes sense, and we would accept it.


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