Yarmuth Opening Statement at Markup of House GOP’s 2018 Budget
Washington, D.C.— Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth, Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, delivered opening remarks at today’s markup of the House GOP’s 2018 budget. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Thank you Chairman Black. Nearly two months ago in this same room, we debated President Trump’s budget. It was a shockingly extreme document that gave to the rich and took from everyone else. I urged my Republican colleagues to see the harm it would bring to American families – the damage it would cause to our chances for a better future – and to choose a different path when crafting their own budget.
But here we are today, with a budget that again displays total indifference to the challenges Americans face. The House budget embraces the worst extremes of the Trump proposal: tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires at the expense of American families, our economic progress, and our national security.
The budget includes $5.4 trillion in mandatory and discretionary spending cuts, and it ultimately reduces non-defense discretionary investments to the lowest level, relative to the size of the economy, since the 1960s. My Republican colleagues are proud to talk about those cuts here in Washington. But what they don’t want to talk about is how these cuts hurt the American people – so we will.
The enormity of these cuts and the severity of the consequences for American families cannot be overstated.
Education, job training, transportation, infrastructure, medical research, and veteran services are all at risk. This budget cuts nearly $1 trillion from mandatory spending that helps provide basic living standards for struggling families. Then it cuts nearly a half a trillion dollars from Medicare, and ends the fundamental guarantee of Medicare coverage. It then embraces the overwhelmingly unpopular Trumpcare--which would strip more than 20 million Americans of health coverage, and makes nearly $1 trillion in cuts to Medicaid.
These aren’t just programs, they represent people. They are families that have never had a chance to get ahead, and they are individuals like the woman I met at my town hall last week. She told me-- "I think there's a misconception that Medicaid is just for the poor. In 2014, my husband lost his job of 25 years and we were suddenly without health insurance or income. But we were covered, for the 11 months leading up to him finding a new job, through the Medicaid expansion."
Medicaid was a lifeline for this woman and her family, as it has been for millions of Americans all across the country. But all of that is at risk, for them and millions of other families, because of the drastic cuts in this budget. It is an incredibly cold document that willfully ignores the needs and priorities of the American people.
But it’s not just the economic security of millions of families that’s at risk in this budget, it’s also our nation’s security.
My Republican colleagues have put on display a narrow worldview; one where our country’s security is only about the size of our military. The Republican budget increases defense spending by an astonishing $72 billion above the current cap – and more than $18 billion above what even President Trump requested. We have a responsibility to ensure our men and women in uniform have every tool and resource needed to safely and successfully execute their mission – and we will do that. But military experts across the board have also stated that diplomacy, foreign aid, and environmental factors like climate change are key components of our national security. Yet my Republican colleagues ignore these facts and recklessly cut funding for the State Department and foreign aid agencies by over $11 billion and environmental and natural resource protection by over $6 billion.
Funding our military at the expense of critical national priorities is not a choice my Republican colleagues have to make, and it’s certainly not a choice the American people want them to make. Which begs the question, why are they making it?
The answer is as simple as it is disgraceful. So that millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations can get a tax cut. They have made the choice to give everyone in the top one percent a $240,000 tax cut while taking breakfast and lunch away from hungry school children. They have made the choice to give everyone in the top one-tenth-of-one percent of income a $1.4 million tax cut while cutting health care for seniors in nursing homes, low-income children, and the disabled.
These are not choices my Democratic colleagues or I would make. The list of upside-down priorities and irresponsible policies in this document is lengthy, and we will do our best to go through as many of them as we can today. We will show a different vision of our country and for the American people. We want to invest in the future of American families, create good jobs, and help grow our economy. Democrats support investments in education, health care, national security, job training, innovation, and infrastructure. We support programs that help 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 and our Committee.