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Yarmuth Opening Statement at Markup of House GOP’s 2019 Budget

Jun 20, 2018

Washington, D.C. – Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth, Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, delivered the following opening statement at today’s markup of the House GOP’s FY19 budget resolution. Remarks as prepared are below:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Less than a year ago, Republicans on our Committee laid the groundwork for enactment of a partisan tax bill that, despite passionate promises to the contrary from my colleagues on the other side of the dais, are increasing our deficits and debt by trillions of dollars. Not a single Democrat voted for that plan – and for good reason.  It was bad enough for our economy on its own, but we knew what would come next. 

The GOP’s skyrocketing deficits are no accident. They are part of the Republican’s three-step plan to dismantle much of what the American people need and want from their government.  First, they passed deep tax cuts benefitting the wealthy with no plan or intention to pay for them. Then, they shed crocodile tears about the exploding deficits they themselves created.  Finally, they demand extreme cuts to programs and priorities that are vital to American families, which is what this budget represents.

This budget places the entire burden of deficit reduction on the middle-class and struggling families.  It does not call for even 1 penny of new revenue from closing tax loopholes for the wealthy or corporations.  In contrast, it assumes a total of $5.8 trillion in spending cuts, at least $2.1 trillion from Medicare, Medicaid and other critical health care programs alone.  It would end the Medicare guarantee and repeal the Affordable Care Act.  It would cut more than $900 billion from programs that provide basic living standards for struggling families. Even Social Security and people with disabilities are not spared. The GOP Budget assumes a cut in the program’s disability benefits, which it describes as “a first step” in Social Security reform.

It also significantly reduces federal investments in education, science, research, transportation, environmental protection and other priorities critical to expanding economic opportunity.  While keeping non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending for next year at the recently agreed-upon level, it will dramatically cut these programs in the future.  Funding will be slashed from $597 billion in 2019 to $555 billion in 2028, a cut that is far deeper when inflation and population growth are factored in.  This is not a tightening of the government’s belt. These are radical, devastating cuts that will jeopardize the safety, health, and well-being of American families and communities while totally undermining our economic competitiveness.

Democrats on the Committee will offer many amendments that will give our colleagues the opportunity to fix these problems and make things right by our constituents. Because the American people want a government that works for them, and they should at least have a Congress that can pass a budget.

But this document is a perfect example of how the Congressional budget process is broken.  Like previous Republican budget resolutions, it is not a serious attempt at governing.  It relies on fabricated numbers and fantasyland projections to achieve its claims of balance, completely ignoring the conclusions of experts and independent analysts. It provides for the extension of temporary tax provisions with no offsets, but somehow still counts the revenue from the expiration of these tax cuts they extend.

This budget simply does not add up – and I mean that it literally does not add up. But I guess that makes sense, because today isn’t about good governing and smart policy. It isn’t about helping American families and making our country stronger.  This is purely about messaging and political cover. 

But that doesn’t mean this budget should be dismissed out of hand.  The American people need to see the priorities of Republicans in this Congress. They need to know that the GOP’s single-minded focus on shrinking overall spending while cutting taxes for those at the top has effectively strangled any possibility of major new investments to address this country’s significant and growing challenges, or to make meaningful improvements in the American people’s lives.

Republicans can ignore the real-world consequences of the policies assumed in the budget resolution, because for the most part they do not actually intend to push legislation this year that would translate the budget into reality. It is an opportunity for Republicans to cast a show vote… to pretend that they are fiscally responsible after enacting tax cuts for the rich that have dramatically increased deficits and debt. However, Republicans have managed to use the budget process to enact parts of their vision into law.  Through reconciliation they enacted their tax scam, which also undermined a key component of the Affordable Care Act. Last year, they came close to destroying health care for millions of people, despite massive opposition from the American public. So we must take the Republican budget seriously, if not literally, to understand where Congressional Republicans want to take the country.

And I can assure you it is not a place the American people want to go.