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Remarks: Yarmuth Leads Democratic Opposition to GOP Budget on House Floor

Oct 4, 2017

Washington, D.C. — Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth, Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, delivered the following remarks on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives as he led the Democratic opposition to the Republicans’ FY18 budget resolution. Remarks as prepared for delivery:

The Republican budget we are debating here today is a shockingly extreme document that gives to the rich and takes from everyone else. It calls for more than $5 trillion in spending cuts that threaten our economic progress and our national security, and it willfully ignores the needs and priorities of the American people.

This budget isn’t about conservative policy or reducing the size of our debt and deficits. It’s not even about American families. This budget is about one thing – using budget reconciliation to ram through giant tax giveaways to the wealthy and big corporations - and to do it without bipartisan support.

This budget, and the tax-cuts it exists to support, are built on a foundation of lies. They are part of a dangerous and deceptive three-step process Republicans have used before with serious consequences for our nation and the American people.

This is what they do. First, my Republican colleagues call for massive tax cuts for the rich, claiming they will generate so much economic growth that they will pay for themselves. Last week, Congressional Republicans announced a $2.4 trillion tax cut plan that benefits the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. Yes, I said trillions with a T. For example, under this tax plan, millions of families making $50,000 a year would be subject to a tax increase, while millionaires get a $230,000 tax cut. That’s not tax reform, that’s a shakedown.  In total, individuals will see their taxes go up by more than $450 billion, while corporations, wealthy passthrough entities, and rich estates get a tax cut totaling $2.9 trillion.

One might justifiably ask why anyone would want to do that. After all, the income disparity in the United States is greater than almost every other country on earth, and it is getting larger. Just a few decades ago, the wealthiest one percent of Americans earned about one-fourth of all national income. Today it is close to 40 percent.

Yet, once this plan is fully phased in, 80 percent of the entire tax cut in this plan goes to just the top one percent, while 45 percent of all households with children see a tax increase. You could be someone who gets a million-dollar salary, own billions in corporate stock, be a partner in a hedge fund, or just the heir to a massive fortune – no matter the type of millionaire you are, Republicans make sure you’ll get a tax cut. And no matter how many times President Trump, Secretary Mnuchin, or my colleagues across the aisle say it, and how much they hope the American people will fall for it, these tax cuts won’t pay for themselves.

That’s not just my argument. That’s the conclusion of the Federal Reserve, the CBO, and respected economists of all backgrounds. Conservative economist and former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin said, “There’s just no evidence that the tax cuts actually pay for themselves.” Even Goldman Sachs…..Goldman Sachs…. Sec. Mnuchin’s former employer, says any growth will be minimal, maybe up to a two-tenths of one percent. Bruce Bartlett, the man who wrote Reaganomics, which codified the trickle-down theory, told Congress last week that he now thinks it is “bull.” Well, that’s half of the word he used, but you get the idea. 

The historical record is clear. We went through this in the early 1980s, the early 2000s under President George W. Bush, and we recently saw it play out to disastrous effect in Kansas. Now Congressional Republicans want to try it again.

We all know the truth. The tax cuts in this plan will increase deficits and debt by approximately $2.4 trillion dollars in the first ten years alone, and trillions more in the years after. These aren’t special, supernatural tax cuts. They aren’t going to magically defy expert analysis…historical precedent… and empirical evidence. This budget will blow enormous holes in the federal budget, which brings me to the second part of this Republican deception.

When growth fails to happen as promised and these tax cuts keep digging our economy down deeper and deeper, Republicans will again bemoan the horrors of deficits and debt.

These cries will lead us to the third and final part of their plan.  They will call for Congressional action.  Not to roll back the tax cuts to the wealthy that caused all the damage, but for drastic cuts to important programs that the American people need and support. Education, health care, research, infrastructure, and veteran’s benefits are all already threatened in this budget. It includes an astonishing $5.4 trillion in spending cuts, $1.5 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid alone. It even assumes $49 billion in cuts to veterans’ benefits. The enormity of these cuts and the severity of the consequences for American families cannot be overstated. But, more cuts will be coming if my Republican colleagues get their way with this budget.  We will see more attacks on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, nutrition assistance, on important benefits and services that help American families get ahead, and on key investments that keep our economy and our nation strong. 

Democrats have a different budget and a far different vision for our country.  And our priorities reflect the priorities of the American people.

We invest in programs that will grow our economy, create good paying jobs, and provide real support for working families. Public investments that lead to a brighter future, such as rebuilding roads, bridges, and other vital infrastructure. Retirement security for seniors now, and for millions of Americans who fear they will never be able to afford to stop working. Affordable education so that young people will be able to compete for the careers of the future.

Affordable, quality child care for hard working parents  - and affordable, quality health care for all Americans.

We believe in a government that helps individuals with nowhere left to turn and a tax code that helps families get ahead. Those are American priorities, and they should be the priorities of this Congress.  I, therefore, urge my colleagues to oppose this budget and support the Democratic alternative. I reserve the balance of my time.