Hoyer Floor Statement on President’s Budget Proposal: The Great Pretender

WASHINGTON, DC- House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) made the following statement on the House Floor today regarding President Bush’s budget proposal (as prepared for delivery).  The statement may also be viewed on the home page of the Office of the Democratic Whip Website under Floor Feature – Spotlight on Hot Issues section:

“Mr. Speaker, when George W. Bush took office, he inherited the longest peacetime expansion of the American economy in history. He inherited four consecutive years of the budget surpluses-the first time that had happened in 80 years. And he inherited a projected 10-year budget surplus of $5.6 trillion.  In March 2001, President Bush boldly promised the American people (and I quote): ‘We can proceed with tax relief without fear of budget deficits, even if the economy softens.  Projections for the surplus in my budget are cautious and conservative.’

“Well, Mr. Speaker, it should now be clear to the American people that the originator of the term ‘Fuzzy Math’ has become its foremost practitioner. Any doubt about that was erased yesterday with the submission of the President’s fiscal 2005 budget – a budget that threatens to plunge into an economic abyss for years to come.

“The President’s failed economic policies are the equivalent of fiscal child abuse because they would force our children to pay our bills for decades. His budget projects a record deficit this year of $521 billion – this, on the heels of last year’s deficit of $375 billion. And next year, the administration projects a deficit of $364 billion – but even that figure ignores reality. It fails to include the costs of additional military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The director of the Office of Management and Budget revealed yesterday that the Administration may ask for another $50 billion for our war efforts.

“It fails to provide a long-term solution for the working-class tax time bomb – the alternative minimum tax. And it fails to include the costs of initiatives such as the Administration’s ill-conceived Social Security privatization plan. The fact is the President has no plan to dig our nation out of the fiscal mess that his policies have created. He pretends that he will halve the deficit by 2009, but almost all the deficit reduction in his budget is attributable to growth in the social security trust fund. I ask my Republican colleagues: where have you hidden the Social Security lockbox?

“Furthermore, the President pretends that reining in non-defense discretionary spending will return the budget to balance. The ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ is still under-funded by $9.4 billion. The President would slash funding for the environment and for construction on our nation’s highways. His budget even cuts funding for veterans medical care, and the assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

“My good friend, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee (Mr. Young), has recognized the fallacy of trying to balance the budget by cutting discretionary spending. Yesterday, Chairman Young said (and I quote):

‘No one should expect significant deficit reduction as a result of austere non-defense discretionary spending limits. The numbers simply do not add up. Non-defense discretionary represents less than one-fifth of the federal budget and freezing this spending reduces the deficit by a marginal amount’.

“But never fear, while the President proposes draconian and unrealistic spending cuts, he continues to demand that the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 be made permanent at a cost of $1 trillion over 10 years. And here’s the kicker: he refuses to offer any explanation of how he plans to pay for them. Even some of our Republican friends are starting to flinch at the Administration’s fiscal recklessness. On Friday, former Majority Leader Dick Armey was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying (and I quote):

‘I’m sitting here, and I’m upset about the deficit, and I’m upset about spending. There’s no way I can pin that on the Democrats. Republicans own the town now.’

“I implore my colleagues to reject the President’s budget out of hand, and to face the fiscal train wreck bearing down on the American people with honesty and candor. When it comes to masquerading as a fiscal conservative, the President deserves an Academy Award. We do not have the luxury of pretending any longer that his failed policies are working.”

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