Hoyer: The Republican Budget Is An Exercise In Partisan Messaging

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Transcript: 

"Mr. Speaker, the baseball season begins this week, so I'll quote the great Yogi Berra, who said: 'It's déjà vu all over again.' This year's Republican budget, which Chairman Ryan unveiled yesterday, is more of the same we've unfortunately come to expect. It's an exercise in partisan messaging. Not a serious and honest attempt to invest in our priorities and pursue compromise toward a sustainable fiscal outlook.

"Their budget does not reflect the balanced approach of spending reforms, new revenues, and investments in our economy called for by both the Bowles-Simpson Commission and the Domenici-Rivlin Commission as well as by the Gang of Six in the United States Senate -- and in addition by almost every economist. The Ryan budget cuts $5 trillion without a single penny of new revenue. Not even a hint of balance.

"Moreover, Chairman Ryan's budget once again relies on the 'magic asterisk' of hundreds of billions of dollars in spending cuts to important domestic programs. He doesn't say which programs we're going to cut. He simply says we're going to get the money. He said that last year, of course, and it didn't happen. But he gives virtually no details about the policies he expects to achieve these savings. To that extent, it is radically different than the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee's tax reform plan, which made real choices, showed real courage, and was a real document.

"The Republican budget continues their obsession with repealing or undermining the Affordable Care Act -- the 53rd attempt to do so. However, of course, they keep all the savings and revenues that the Affordable Care Act is scored as giving. It would, furthermore, kick millions off their health insurance and turn Medicaid into a capped block grant, decimating the program and making life more difficult for all those millions who rely on it.

"Once more, they are seeking to end the Medicare guarantee as we know it. Now, they will say it's a choice that at fifty-five you can make a choice whether you want to have private insurance, with a voucher you get from the federal government, or go into Medicare. That's what they say. The reality is, however, they would make traditional Medicare far, far, far more expensive, driving people out of that program and eliminating it over time.

"Their budget, in addition, would make it very difficult, if not impossible, for Congress to invest in our economy and our people by driving domestic discretionary spending well below the sequester's harmful level. The American people ought to be outraged, but not surprised. We've seen this movie before, and it never ends well for Republicans or, tragically, does it end happily for the American people.

"The new plot twist in this year's budget is Chairman Ryan going where no Budget Chairman has gone before, relying on the spurious gimmickry of so-called 'dynamic scoring' to pad his numbers with budget savings that simply do not exist. Now, we talked about this a lot. The 1981 tax cuts were supposed to boost the economy. In fact we increased the national debt by 187%. In 2001 and 2003, we were promised that the tax cuts would grow the economy. In fact, during those eight years of the Bush administration, we had the worst economy that anybody in this chamber has experienced -- and indeed, I would presume, in the galleries as well.

"While Chairman Ryan claims his budget balances in ten years, in reality his projection for revenues in 2024 is less than his projection for outlays. In other words, no balance. That's the simple budget math. The only way Chairman Ryan can pretend his math works is by using Republicans' dynamic scoring trick. This is the same trick that paved the way for the Bush tax cuts to turn record surpluses into record deficits, as I said. It's sort of like a family making its budget and projecting, well, we are going to get a big raise because the boss is going to be doing better, and the economy is going to be doing better, and we'll get a big raise. So we'll budget as if we had already gotten the raise. What happens is you don't get that raise, and you are deeply in the hole. Americans get that. It's a shame their Congress doesn't get that.

"Republicans have a bill on the Floor this week to force the nonpartisan CBO to use the Republican math. The virtue of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office was that it would give us honest numbers. Now the Republicans want to force them to give them their numbers, that they want, that make it easier for them to pretend that things are going to get better with their policies rather than putting their policies in place and then seeing if it does get better -- and, if it does, we have a bonus. Of course, if it doesn't, we run up large deficits that we did in the last administration, as we did in the Reagan Administration, as we did in the first Bush Administration, and yes, slightly, in the Clinton Administration. But, in the Clinton Administration, over every Republican's objections, we balanced the budget in four years.

“We need a budget, Mr. Speaker, that reflects our real challenges and recognizes that we must compromise to make the difficult choices necessary to meet them. The American people deserve a budget this focuses not on gimmicks but one that promotes opportunity, growth, and security. Compromise not confrontation. Pragmatism, not partisanship. What works, not what sounds good.

“Our budget proposal should reflect our priorities and enable us to rise to meet our challenges. The Republican budget that's going to be voted on today in the Budget Committee does not do that. Now the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Speaker, wrote an editorial about the Ryan priorities, most of which I disagree with. Because I think they are reliant, as Ryan does, on dynamic scoring is a fool's errand, and has been proved to be such over the years that I have served in Congress over the last thirty-three years. But I do agree with their conclusion, and they say this, 'the Ryan outline does the service of showing the policy direction in which the Republicans would head if they regain control of the Senate next year.' I agree with that.

“I think this is a litmus test for the American people. They can review the Ryan budget. They can review its consequences to them, themselves, their families, their children, their community. They can see the adverse consequences of a plan that will not work, and I predict – as I predicted last year, Mr. Speaker – the Appropriations Committee headed by Hal Rogers, Republican Chairman, will not bring appropriation bills to the Floor that will pass on this Floor that will implement the Ryan budget, notwithstanding the fact that Ryan's party controls this House. I predicted that last year and I was right. As a matter of fact, no bills passed this House at the Ryan budget numbers last year. None. Not one.

“Sadly, I think that's what's going to happen this year. Sadly for the American people. Sadly for this Congress. Sadly for our children. Mr. Speaker, we can do better. We can be real. We ought to do the job that the American people expect us to do. And get this country on a fiscally sustainable path. Not with smoke and mirrors but with sincerity and courage.”