IS IT IRRESPONSIBILITY WEEK IN THE U.S. HOUSE?

For Immediate Release:

March 16, 2004

Contact:Stacey Farnen
202-225-3130

WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) challenged Republicans this week to offer a budget resolution for Fiscal Year 2005 that reins in record budget deficits – rather than pretending to do so – and that meets America’s priorities.  The following is Rep. Hoyer’s statement:

“Mr. Speaker, one week ago, the Majority Leader, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. DeLay), told the members of this body and a national television audience watching C-SPAN (and I quote): ‘It’s responsibility week here in the House.’

“Well, Mr. Speaker, the Majority Leader was only half right.  Last week, indeed, was responsibility week.  But the real responsibility was being exercised not here in this House, but on the other side of Capitol Hill.  While we named post office buildings, honored professional sports teams and passed legislative “solutions” in search of national problems, the other chamber adopted a bipartisan pay-as-you-go measure that repudiates the central fiction of the Republican Party’s fuzzy math: that we can rein in record budget deficits created by the Bush Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress while ignoring the costs of tax cuts.

“Don’t take it from me, my Republican friends.  Listen to a respected member of your own party, the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Bill Young.  In February, 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.’

“And why don’t the numbers add up?  Because non-defense discretionary spending represents only 17 percent of the entire federal budget.  The fact of the matter is, we could wipe out all domestic discretionary spending and we would still be running a deficit of more than $100 billion.  Yet, this week, the Republican Majority continues its markup of a budget resolution for Fiscal 2005 that utterly ignores mathematical – and fiscal – reality.

“By applying PAYGO rules to spending only, the Republican budget resolution pretends that making existing tax cuts permanent or enacting new ones are a freebie with no budgetary impact.  But, of course, that’s false.  The truth is, this Republican budget resolution cuts taxes while spending the entire $1 trillion Social Security surplus between fiscal 2005 and 2009 – and it would continue to do so in subsequent years.

“The truth is, this Republican budget resolution would make our deficits $247 billion worse over the next five years under current law.  And, over ten years, it would increase the deficit already projected by the Congressional Budget Office – $2 trillion – by another $1.6 trillion.  And the truth is, this budget resolution would freeze funding for domestic appropriations outside of homeland security to make room for new tax cuts.

“For years, House Republicans preened as “deficit hawks.”  Some even suggested that tax cuts are not, in fact, sacrosanct.  For example, in 1997, the Majority Leader himself said of Jack Kemp, a former member of this body and ardent proponent of supply-side tax cuts (and I quote): ‘Jack Kemp worships at the altar of tax cuts.  Jack has always said that deficits don’t matter.  We think that deficits do matter.’

“My Republican friends, this week and next, you’re going to show the American people whether you’re really serious about reducing the deficit you created, or whether you’re simply faking it and lack the courage to make tough choices.  As Republican John McCain said last week, in supporting PAYGO rules that apply to existing as well as future tax cuts (and I quote):  ‘Our failure to start making some of the tough decisions will land squarely on the backs of our children and grandchildren, and their financial future will be strapped with digging out of holes that have been created by our actions and inactions.’ And let me add that our failure to make the tough decisions also threatens the very future of Social Security and Medicare. 

“Next week, Democrats will propose a budget plan that meets America’s priorities and gets our fiscal house back in order.  I urge all of my colleagues to support it.  It’s time we delivered a real responsibility week to the American people.”

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