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WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) and leaders of the Blue Dog Coalition spoke out today on the need to raise the debt limit for the second time in a year following years of budget surplus, and the damaging consequences of President Bush’s fiscally irresponsible budget plan. The following is Congressman Hoyer’s statement as prepared for delivery:
“The Bush Administration’s irresponsible budget and tax policies have pushed the public debt past the $6.4 trillion limit President Bush requested last June. After four years of surpluses, Congress will soon have to raise the debt limit again, for the second time in a year.
The idea of “raising the debt limit” sounds like meaningless policy jargon. But its consequences are easily grasped by all Americans: We will now be forced to place a “debt tax” on our children to pay off this debt in the future. It is the equivalent of racking up credit card debt and sticking your kids with the bill.
The hard choices that we made in the 1997 budget act led to four years during which the overall debt held by the public, which effects interests rates most, actually decreased by roughly $450 billion. This is the same amount by which Congress increased the debt limit last year, and that will be required again due to the president’s reckless budget policies.
Republicans are not making the hard choices this time around. Instead, they will vote for two bills at virtually the same time that are going to dig the budget deficit hole deeper: One bill to raise the debt ceiling by hundreds of billions and one bill to cut taxes by hundreds of billions. Both of these bills will ensure that the nation’s bottom line is in the red for years to come. To add insult to injury, the increase in debt caused by the President’s economic package will further drag down an already struggling economy.
Last week we learned another 308,000 Americans lost their jobs in February. Consumer confidence is at its lowest level in 10 years. Despite all of the bad news, the President and the Republicans in Congress forge ahead with their reckless budget and ignore the millions of Americans who need economic relief now, in the form of jobs.
The president’s budget completely ignores the return to budget deficits, the untold costs of the war on terrorism, and the need for crucial investments in homeland security, Social Security and education. And it does nothing to stimulate the economy and create jobs.
Incredibly, in the face of a struggling economy and millions of Americans without jobs, the president did not propose a stimulus plan, just new tax cuts that will add to the deficit.
Bush’s budget is the most fiscally irresponsible budget in history. In fact, the CBO announced on Friday that the Bush budget will produce a staggering $1.8 trillion shortfall in ten years. The Bush budget fails
Democrats are putting together a budget alternative that will stimulate the economy, be fiscally responsible, not damage long-term economic health and make investments in homeland security, health care and education. Democrats will also continue to push for a fair and fiscally responsible stimulus like the one we put forward in January that would have created 1 million new jobs.
It is time for the president to put down his shovel and stop digging the deficit hole deeper. Democrats stand poised to help