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Chairman Yarmuth Opening Statement at Hearing on the President’s 2020 Budget

Mar 12, 2019

Washington, D.C.— Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, gave the following opening statement at today’s hearing on President Trump’s 2020 budget proposal with Russell Vought, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Remarks as prepared are below:

This hearing will come to order. I would like to welcome Acting Director Vought -- thank you for coming here today to testify on the President’s 2020 budget proposal. Let’s dive right in.

The purpose of this hearing is for us to be the eyes and ears of the American taxpayers on the priorities of the Trump Administration as we begin the budget and appropriations process for 2020.

Unfortunately, when you look at the budget the Trump administration has produced, it is not responsible or even usable.

I described the President’s first budget as a betrayal – harsh words for a harsh budget that abandoned working Americans and families. The second proposal continued this pattern, relying on extreme cuts to blunt the deficit-exploding impact of the Republican tax scam at the expense of those same working Americans and families.

Now, this third budget proposal offers more of the same: it is a recipe for American decline and relies on a patchwork of gimmicks, fantasy projections, and extreme cuts that forfeit any responsibility for the well-being of the American people and our nation. What this administration is saying to our constituents is that the federal government will no longer have a role in making sure we remain an opportunity-based society…that the American Dream is out of their reach.

In 2020 alone, this proposal would have us do the unthinkable: a nine percent cut – not the five percent the White House claims – in non-defense discretionary funds. Over the course of the decade, it would slash NDD by more than $1 trillion, crippling our economic and national security by disinvesting in education, public health, energy, health care research, infrastructure, and activities directly related to our national security including homeland security, diplomatic operations, veterans’ health care, law enforcement, food safety, disease prevention and control. In short, it is a complete abandonment of our responsibility to the American people, and it is intentional.

You can’t cut Medicare by a half a trillion dollars without knowing it will hurt our nation’s seniors.

You can’t cut Medicaid by $1.5 trillion without knowing it will result in families losing health care coverage.

You can’t cut student loans by more than $200 billion without knowing it will make it harder – if not impossible -- for young people to go to college.

You can’t cut nutrition assistance by more than $220 billion without knowing it will leave families without food to put on the table.

And you can’t gut the EPA by more than 30 percent without knowing it will make our air less safe and our water less clean.

These cuts in the Trump budget aren’t a tightening of the belt or a trimming of the fat, or even a serious attempt at reining in spending. They are extreme to a level that is malicious…a level that is intended to do harm.

But that’s not all. On top of all the damage done in the name of so-called fiscal restraint, this budget calls for a trillion dollars in additional tax cuts for the wealthy. This is on top of the tax scam enacted in 2017 that showered tax cuts on the rich and wealthy corporations while adding trillions to our deficits.

None of it adds up or makes sense, which explains some of the more creative aspects of the President’s budget. The Administration uses every gimmick, “alternative projection,” and accounting trick in the book to disguise its true ramifications. One of the most striking parts in this budget is the inclusion of $165 billion for OCO – a stunning figure. Director Vought you’re not even trying to hide this attempt to skirt the cap on defense funding and obscure the true cost of military operations. In your op-ed, you implore fiscal conservatives to accept this gimmick as a back-way to supercharge defense spending and avoid negotiating realistic and responsible budget caps for both defense and non-defense funding. I’m sorry but you don’t get points for being honest about being dishonest – it doesn’t work that way. This is a gimmick and it deserves the swift bipartisan dismissal with which it was met.

The only way we can begin a productive budget and appropriations process is by committing to honest and realistic budgeting and reaching an agreement to raise the caps for discretionary spending.

It is my hope that, through this hearing we can conduct an open and honest examination of the priorities set forth by the Trump administration and begin to craft a budget that truly reflects the needs and priorities of the American people. Once again, I would like to thank Acting Director Vought for being here today. I look forward to your testimony.

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