Welcome all, to this important hearing.
I’d like to thank Secretary Geithner for joining us. This is your second hearing today and your fourth this week.
We know that defending this budget is no easy task, so we appreciate your time.
Mr. Secretary, it’s pretty well known that one of your favorite sayings is “plan beats no plan.”
It’s a phrase you used often during the financial crisis to describe the need for policymakers to plan for every contingency in order to stay ahead of events.
I remember those days well.
We had you… your predecessor at Treasury… and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve… all coming here to warn us about the impending collapse of the U.S. economy.
Because that crisis took us by surprise, the legislation that resulted was ugly.
But the circumstances could not be more different today.
Back then, we faced a crisis that very few people saw coming. Today, we are facing the most predictable crisis in our nation’s history.
And yet, for the fourth year in a row, you’ve brought us this.
This, Mr. Secretary, is no plan. It is no plan to restrain spending. It is no plan to grow the economy. And most of all, it is no plan to save the nation from the debt-fueled economic disaster before us.
If plan beats no plan, then why has the President once again decided to duck from the drivers of our debt?
Why has he once again given us broken promises instead of leadership – and excuses instead of accountability?
Instead of cooperation where agreement is possible, why have we seen the President turn his back on bipartisan solutions?
And why has he decided to base his re-election strategy on dividing Americans for political gain?
After House Republicans put forward serious solutions in our budget last year, the President had an opportunity to advance plans for meeting our challenges.
In fact, there is growing bipartisan consensus for the reforms that are needed – even on contentious issues like entitlement spending and tax reform.
Reforms based on premium support, which would strengthen Medicare by introducing choice and competition, have a bipartisan history.
This history dates back to the Breaux-Thomas commission under President Clinton… it continues with the work done by Alice Rivlin and Pete Domenici at the Bipartisan Policy Center… and it includes my cooperation with Sen. Ron Wyden to put forward a bipartisan option for saving and strengthening the Medicare guarantee.
And fundamental tax reform also has a bipartisan history. In 1986, we did fundamental tax reform that lowered rates and broadened the base.
The congressional sponsors of that bill? None other than Dick Gephardt and Bill Bradley.
So I would argue that this is not a Left vs. Right issue. This is about those who are willing to tell people the truth about our nation’s enormous challenges, and those who continue to duck from those challenges.
This budget takes the latter approach.
It represents a very clear threat to the health and retirement security of America’s seniors… it threatens our prosperity by fueling the growth of government with ever-higher taxes… and it commits our children and grandchildren to a diminished future.
Secretary Geithner, you would probably be the first to acknowledge that having no plan is itself a plan.
It is a plan for failure. Having no plan as a nation means planning for decline.
The point of this hearing is to find out why that kind of future for our country is apparently acceptable to your administration.
I hope your testimony can provide the answers – and the accountability – that the American people deserve.
With that, I yield to the Ranking Member, Mr. Van Hollen.