As Prepared for Delivery
Good morning, everyone, and thanks for being here today.
As we discussed in last week’s hearing with the CBO director, there is no question our nation is on a fiscal and economic path that is unsustainable. Our national debt has topped $18 trillion and is growing ever larger. Vital programs that folks rely on are heading toward insolvency. And our economy isn’t growing nearly as fast as it should be. If we maintain this status quo, we’re going to have a future of less opportunity and less security for the American people.
So, it’s clear we need to move in a different direction and that requires new ideas that can actually deliver real, positive results. Unfortunately, what the president has proposed in his budget fails on many levels to solve the challenges we face.
Director Donovan, thank you for being here today. I look forward to your testimony and explanation of the president’s reasoning behind his budget proposal, because, to be honest, my colleagues and I, on this committee, have serious concerns with what the president has put forward.
A lot of what we have here in the president’s budget is just more of the same policies that have been tried over the past few years and have led us to our current state of high, and soon to be rising again, deficits and an underperforming economy. The president is proposing a $2.1 trillion tax increase and a $2.4 trillion spending increase. He’s suggesting that Washington ought to take more from American families and job creators in order to spend more in Washington. That’s a formula that hasn’t worked in the past, and it’s not going to start working now. Every dollar that is taken from Americans in taxes – and every dollar borrowed – is a dollar that can’t be spent on – paying for your kid’s education, buying a car, paying your rent, paying your mortgage, buying a house. All the things the American people want to do – are made more difficult, because of the president’s budget.
Despite the president’s massive tax increases, his budget never balances – ever. The president is saying we should keep spending more money that we don’t have and leave the serious problem of our growing debt to someone else or some other day. $8.5 trillion will be added to the debt over the next ten years and the president seems content to do little about it. Even more disturbing is the fact that the president is once again just ignoring the challenges in our retirement programs and leaving current and future generations to fend for themselves when these programs eventually collapse. Isn’t that just doing nothing and breaking the promise to today’s seniors and tomorrow’s retirees?
In order to increase spending across the board, the president’s budget would unravel bipartisan agreements that have secured a modicum of spending restraint in recent years. We can all agree that there are smarter ways to control spending and get our fiscal house in order, but the president is not proposing a smarter way to restore fiscal responsibility. He’s just abandoning the effort.
At the end of the day, a proposal that never balances and ignores key drivers of the nation’s debt is not a serious plan. And to make matters worse, the president’s proposal is filled with $1 trillion in budget gimmicks like phony war savings, and several un-paid-for extensions of current law including the “doc fix,” stimulus-era tax credits. The American people are looking for credible solutions not misleading assumptions and questionable accounting. Hard-working taxpayers deserve nothing less. They deserve our best effort.
Starting with his State of the Union address, the president has sought to repackage his old ideas under a new slogan – “middle class economics.” Unfortunately, it’s the middle class that is being harmed by these policies with wages stagnating, businesses facing barriers to growth and opportunity, and more tax dollars being taken out of the pockets of Americans and wasted away in Washington.
Director Donovan, thank you again for joining us today. It’s clear we have differences of opinions, but I look forward to hearing your testimony today – and I hope and pray we will work – together – to find honest solutions to the remarkable challenges we face.
I now yield to the ranking member, Mr. van Hollen.