Hoyer on House Floor: Republican Budget Has Disastrous Priorities that Hurt Working Class Americans

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Transcript: 

Mr. Speaker:

Today, President Obama is speaking on a plan to confront our nation’s unsustainable deficits. I believe it will stand in stark contrast to the Republican budget: a budget of disastrous priorities that concentrates its pain on middle- and working-class Americans, while creating yet another windfall for the wealthy—at a time when income inequality is at a height we haven’t seen since the 1920s.
The Republican budget ends Medicare as we know it, transforming a system of guaranteed health care into a system that provides seniors with less coverage every year. It dismantles Medicaid, putting seniors’ nursing home care at risk, and cutting off care for disabled and poor Americans. These entitlements must be addressed. But we must address them in a way that both keeps them sustainable and makes them available for generations to come.
Somehow, however—after undermining the social compact of Medicare, after cutting care for the most vulnerable, after sending more than 30 million of us back to the ranks of the uninsured—the Republican budget finds trillions of dollars to give as tax cuts to the most well-off Americans. Republicans say we are too broke to afford the promise of Medicare—but we are flush enough to spend trillions in tax cuts for the wealthiest among us.
In fact, the Republican budget spends so much on corporate subsidies and tax breaks for the wealthy—and loses so many savings by repealing the cost controls in the Affordable Care Act—that it fails to balance the budget in ten years, or even twenty years.
We have been down this so-called “Path to Prosperity” before. It leads to skyrocketing deficits—because the supply-side dogma that lower taxes mean higher revenues has proven false for three decades running. If Republican tax dogma made sense, then our debt would not have increased 200% under President Reagan, or 115% under the second President Bush. But it did.
In fact, we have seen Republican promises of prosperity proven wrong time and again. In 2007, now-Majority Leader Cantor said that the Bush tax cuts “have spurred spectacular economic growth.” The growth was spectacular for the top 1%—but for the rest of America, the Bush economy produced what the Wall Street Journal called “the worst track record for job creation since the government began keeping records.” Throughout the Bush years, middle-class incomes stayed stagnant and deficits soared.
What did Republicans say about a budget that actually helped create unprecedented prosperity, the 1993 Clinton budget? Here’s what now-Speaker Boehner said: “How does this create any new, real jobs? Who does this spending stimulate except maybe the liberal faculty at Harvard or Berkeley?” Of course, contrary to the Speaker’s assertion, the Clinton years saw the creation of 22.7 million jobs.
Those words represent the same flawed priorities we see in this new Republican budget: tax breaks for the wealthy, a failure to invest in the future, and a heavier burden on working families.
Our country deserves better. Let’s reform our entitlement programs—with a scalpel, not an axe. Let’s look for savings in every part of the budget—defense included. Let’s close tax loopholes—but let’s also use the tax code to reduce the deficit and ensure that all of us, even the most privileged, pay their fare share.
Republicans have taken us down this primrose path before. It has demonstrably led to higher debt, stagnation for working Americans, and, most recently, an economic implosion. We must not choose that dead end again.