Thank you, Secretary Geithner, for coming before our Committee today to discuss the President’s budget.
The President has disappointed us by presenting us with another budget that spends too much, borrows too much and taxes too much. It is a budget that will stifle job growth today and leave a diminished future for the next generation.
Last year, the long-term fiscal trajectory in the President’s budget was so bad that it came with a warning label, like a cigarette pack: Warning: Must appoint fiscal commission to fix this problem.
But then, when his own commission put forward a set of fundamental entitlement and tax reforms, he ignored them.
Despite the urgent need to rein in our runaway debt, the President’s budget would add $13 trillion to debt – an unconscionable burden we’re imposing on our economy today and our children tomorrow.
To be sure, both parties share the blame for the unsustainable trajectory we’re on.
Nevertheless, this President has made our spending problems much worse with policies such as the failed stimulus and the new health care entitlement.
To listen to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, you would think these massive new spending programs have nothing to do with it. They blame the Bush tax cuts – even though they agree that most of these tax cuts should be made permanent.
In fact, one of the President’s own economic advisers, Austan Goolsbee, recently defended the Administration’s use of rosy economic forecasts to make its deficits look smaller by saying that the forecasts actually understated near-term growth, because the estimates hadn’t factored in recent tax relief for all Americans.
So the Administration is admitting that low tax rates are good for growth, even as their budget is calling for $1.6 trillion in higher taxes on American families, businesses and entrepreneurs just two years from now.
Ironically, that’s when the Administration’s forecasts predict that economic growth will really take off. Must be all those tax increases.
On our nation’s most pressing fiscal challenges, the President has failed to lead. Former Clinton Chief of Staff and co-chair of the fiscal commission, Erskine Bowles, said the White House budget request goes “nowhere near where they will have to go to resolve our fiscal nightmare.”
The policies contained in this budget would commit us to the bankruptcy of our entitlement programs and the managed decline of our economy.
The President has asked us to raise the debt limit. But the experience of Europe teaches us that we cannot keep making unaffordable promises without eventually hitting a real debt limit – a limit on our borrowing imposed by credit markets in a state of panic.
The politically safe response, I suppose, would be to do nothing. But I wonder about that.
I wonder how long Americans will tolerate empty promises about their retirement security. I wonder how long they will put up with leaders who fail to lead us – when we are staring a debt crisis in the face.
We feel that it’s our responsibility to do things differently – to lead where the President has fallen short. And that’s exactly what we plan to do.
With that, I will yield to Ranking Member Van Hollen for an opening statement.