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Yarmuth Rules Committee Opening Statement on House GOP Budget

Oct 3, 2017

Washington, D.C.--Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth, Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, today testified at a meeting of the House Committee on Rules against the Republicans’ budget proposal. Remarks as prepared for delivery are below:

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member McGovern, and members of the Rules Committee.

Mr. Chairman, I have to say this is an interesting exercise. We are here to debate a budget resolution that will be opposed by the Democratic Caucus and part of the Republican Conference. The difference being that Democrats opposing this budget will vote no, while Republicans who oppose the budget will vote yes.  They say their goal is to get the budget to conference where all problems will be solved.  It’s that kind of fantastical thinking that got us the numbers and projections in this budget in the first place. But while a sizable group of Republicans aren’t taking this budget seriously, we will. 

It is a shockingly extreme document. 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.

But 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 the budget reconciliation process to ram through giant tax giveaways to the wealthy and big corporations - and to do it without needing bipartisan support.

But it’s even more sinister than that. This budget, and the tax-cuts it exists to support, are part of a three-step process Republicans have used before and with serious consequences for our nation and the American people.

First, you propose massive tax cuts for the rich, claiming they will generate so much economic growth that they will pay for themselves. Last week, as we all know, your Conference announced a $2.4 trillion tax cut plan.  It clearly benefits the wealthy at the expense of nearly everyone else. 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.  In total, individuals will see their taxes go up by more than $470 billion, while corporations, wealthy passthrough entities, and rich estates get a tax cut totaling $2.9 trillion.

Once 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. And no matter how many times President Trump, Secretary Mnuchin, or anyone in this room or on the House floor says it, these tax cuts won’t pay for themselves.

Conservative economist and former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin said, “There’s just no evidence that the tax cuts actually pay for themselves.” And the historical record is clear. We went through this in the early 1980s, the early 2000s under President George W. Bush, and we saw it play out to disastrous effect in Kansas recently.

Now you want to try it again. This time with a plan that will increase deficits and debt by approximately $2.4 trillion dollars in the first ten years alone, and trillions more in the years after that. These tax cuts aren’t going to magically defy historical precedent, empirical evidence, and expert analysis. They are going to blow enormous holes in the federal budget, which brings me to the second part of this three step plan.

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

These cries will lead us to the third and final part of your plan.  You 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, all of which are all already threatened in this budget. It calls for trillions of dollars in cuts to vital national priorities, including $1.5 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid alone. The enormity of these cuts and the severity of the consequences for American families cannot be overstated. But, more cuts will be coming if you get your way with your tax plan.  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 stay strong. 

Democrats have a different budget and a far different vision for our country.  We invest in programs that will grow our economy, create good paying jobs, and provide real support for working families. We make a strong commitment to infrastructure, education, retirement security, 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 responsible tax code that helps families get ahead. Those are the priorities of American families, and they should be the priorities of this Congress and this Committee.  I, therefore, ask that you make my substitute in order for debate and consideration on the floor. I also ask that you make in order the substitute budgets offered by our colleagues from the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.