Katie Grant, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks today at the National Association of Development Organizations Policy Conference. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
"I want to thank you for all of your hard work to strengthen local communities across our country. More than 2,000 counties and 15,000 municipalities count on your work. And as those communities work to make themselves better places to live, to start a business, to get an education, and to raise a family, they are counting on your expertise and your advocacy.
"I want to talk today about how we can build on your work and make the communities you represent—the communities millions of Americans call home—stronger and more vibrant. Above all, I think we can and must do two vital things: first, keep jobs here and build the industries of the future by investing in innovation, education, and infrastructure; second, help businesses make more products in America—because when more things are made in America, more families will be able to Make It In America.
"This is a hard time for our budgets, on the federal, state, and local levels. But the way to meet this challenge is through compromise. Democrats agree that cutting spending is part of the solution to our deficit. But we can’t cut spending recklessly—cuts have to be smart and targeted. Democrats have shown that we’re willing to meet Republicans more than halfway, to cut and compromise. Unfortunately, Republicans aren’t budging from their arbitrary target—one that I believe would have severe consequences for our country’s future.
"David Brooks was absolutely right when he recently explained the problems with reckless cutting in the New York Times. Legislators 'are simply cutting on the basis of what’s politically easy and what vaguely seems expendable.'
"But the only part of the budget Republicans have been willing to touch is called 'non-security discretionary spending'—which only adds up to 14% of our budget. We’re getting the worst of both worlds: barely putting a dent in our debt, but severely compromising important investments in our growth.
"Unfortunately, Congress is dealing with a spending bill would cut billions in research on medical cures and energy technology. It would stop funding 20,000 scientists at the National Science Foundation. It would kick 200,000 children out of Head Start. It would put college further out of reach for more of our sons and daughters. It would stop construction projects in 40 states—projects that make our local communities more attractive places to do business and connect them to the global economy.
"All of that weakens our country. This month, Columnist Fareed Zakaria explained why in Time magazine. 'What we see today,' he writes 'is an American economy that has boomed because of policies and developments of the 1950s and ‘60s: the interstate-highway system, massive funding for science and technology, a public-education system that was the envy of the world and generous immigration policies.' But those wise policies are exactly the ones that are under attack. Zakaria continues: 'Reducing funds for things like education, scientific research, air-traffic control, NASA, infrastructure and alternative energy will not produce much in savings, and it will hurt the economy's long-term growth. It would happen at the very moment that countries from Germany to South Korea to China are making large investments in education, science, technology and infrastructure. We are cutting investments and subsidizing consumption—exactly the opposite of what are the main drivers of economic growth.'
"Rather than treating cutting from 14% of the budget as if it’s fiscally responsible, we have to look at the whole budget. That means some politically difficult choices—whether it’s eliminating waste in defense spending, working to keep our entitlements solvent, or passing deficit-reducing tax reform. But that’s what our country’s future demands—not ignoring 86% of the problem. Let’s cut spending we don’t need. But let’s make sure to distinguish between that kind of spending and investments in our growth.
"Democrats believe that we need to fund investment in our communities. And that brings me to our second imperative: passing the Make It In America agenda. Make It In America is a legislative agenda designed to help companies stay in our communities, innovate here, and create jobs here. And it’s about ensuring we have a middle-class workforce ready to take the jobs of the future.
"President Obama has already signed seven Make It In America bills. They speed up the patent process for American inventors; help small businesses get tax cuts and loans to innovate, grow, and add workers; invest in science, technology, engineering, and math education; and more. Make It In America also means fighting for a fair trade playing field, the kind on which our workers and businesses can compete and win. And it means expanding access to college and job training, to strengthen local economies and grow our middle class.
"Our competitors aren’t standing still, and we can’t either—not when standing still means losing more industries and jobs in communities across America. It’s time to rededicate ourselves to out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building our competitors."