Welcome, everybody. Well, this budget may be two months late, but I want to thank Mr. Zients for coming to testify.
That said, I’m disappointed by the President’s proposal—because it’s a status quo budget. It doesn’t break any new ground; it just goes over old ground. It raises taxes by $1.1 trillion. It increases spending by nearly $1 trillion. And it adds $8.2 trillion to our debt. In short, it takes more from families to spend more in Washington.
The President says his policies would cut the deficit by $4.3 trillion over ten years. But that’s not true. The budget itself claims $1.4 trillion of deficit reduction over ten years. And nearly all those savings are from well-worn gimmicks. In fact, if you remove the gimmicks, this budget cuts the deficit by just $119 billion.
Oh, and by the way, the President’s budget proposes that this paltry deficit reduction begin in 2020—four years after the President has left office.
The President does deserve credit for challenging his party on entitlements. For instance, he’s proposed increased means-testing for Medicare Part B and D. Unfortunately, the President’s budget doesn’t include the structural reforms we need to protect and strengthen critical health and retirement-security programs. The policy changes in this budget won’t save these programs.
So the President’s budget is a disappointment—because it’s a missed opportunity. We need a new approach in Washington to meet our country’s most pressing challenges. That’s what our side is offering. Our plan balances the budget in ten years to foster a healthier economy and to help create jobs. Our plan expands opportunity for the young. It guarantees a secure retirement for seniors. And it repairs the safety net for those in need.
But I’ll say this. At least everyone has put a plan on the table—House Republicans, Senate Democrats, and the President. There are many differences between these plans. The President and Senate Democrats believe Washington knows better, so their plans put more power in its hands. They never balance the budget. They raise taxes. By defending the status quo, they’re letting critical programs like Medicare wither on their watch. And their policies will cement record poverty and high unemployment into place.
But we can’t simply dwell on our differences. We’ve got to move forward. We’ve got to find common ground. Even if we can’t agree on everything, we need to make a down payment on our debt—now.
As difficult as the challenges are, I believe we can make progress. And I’m hopeful we will.
With that, I yield to the ranking member.