By Paul M. Krawzak, CQ Roll Call
March 24, 2014 – 12:34 p.m.
“There are some who believe that, because we’re no longer facing a ‘crisis,’ like a government shutdown or a debt limit, we can stop working to restore fiscal sustainability,” the Maryland Democrat planned to say in prepared remarks at a forum on fiscal issues sponsored by Third Way, a Democratic leaning, self-described centrist think tank.
Instead, he said this is a time when lawmakers “have the best chance to lay the groundwork for the hard decisions we will need to make.” Hoyer said “short of reaching a big deal, we can still leverage opportunities before us to make progress toward the goal that proponents of a such a deal have long sought.”
Hoyer suggested an immigration overhaul and extending expired tax cuts, which he said should be offset, as areas where the two parties could work together.
Pointing to a Congressional Budget Office analysis of an immigration bill passed by the Senate, Hoyer said it would “save $158 billion in the first 10 years and $685 billion in the decade to follow.” He called those “substantial, structural savings to address our budget shortfall as well as a big answer to our growing demographic shortfall.”
Though Hoyer said he favors a tax overhaul, he said Democrats and Republicans remain too divided on the details to enact something so ambitions. “But if we can use the tax extenders process to promote the benefits of comprehensive reform, including making our long-term outlook more sustainable, it would be an important victory compared to recent history,” he said.
Stephanie Young, a spokeswoman for Hoyer, said “because it’s unlikely a big deal will get done in the current climate, Mr. Hoyer believes Congress should leverage opportunities we’re going to have this year to make progress toward the goal of fiscal sustainability, because that’s important.”
The speech comes a week or more ahead of the expected markup of a fiscal 2015 budget resolution by House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., aimed at setting the long-term GOP strategy on fiscal issues. As was the case over the past few years, the GOP plan is expected to call for deeper domestic spending cuts, a restructuring of federal health care programs including Medicare and Medicaid, and repeal of the 2010 health care law. That plan is not expected to go anywhere since Senate Budget ChairwomanPatty Murray, D-Wash., is not writing a budget resolution.