WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today after Minority Leader John Boehner dismissed bipartisan efforts to reduce the nation’s deficit and debt:
“I’m disappointed in Minority Leader Boehner’s response to a sincere attempt to establish a bipartisan mechanism to address the fiscal challenges facing our nation. The Obama Administration has made fiscal responsibility a focus over both the short- and long-term. Their budget proposal included several immediate steps, such as the freeze on non-defense discretionary spending and a Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee to ensure taxpayers are repaid. Additionally, the President will sign statutory ‘pay-as-you-go’ legislation into law soon, reinstating a proven tool for bringing discipline to the budget process.
“Over the long-term, a bipartisan fiscal commission is key to setting a path toward sustained fiscal discipline. The Administration has repeatedly indicated its openness to constructive suggestions on how a commission should be structured, as evidenced by Secretary Geithner’s outreach to Minority Leader Boehner. I regret that Leader Boehner rejected the Administration’s overture asking for input.
“As it stands, the commission is based on the bipartisan proposal put forward by Senator Conrad, a Democrat, and Senator Gregg, a Republican – clearly not a partisan template. Neither the Conrad-Gregg nor the Cooper-Wolf proposals would provide for a 50-50 party split if they were enacted today; but the Administration is committed to making sure any recommendation put forward by a commission would have to have bipartisan support.
“I agree that all options for restoring fiscal balance should be on the table for the commission to consider. However, budget experts from across the political spectrum agree that finding a solution to our long term fiscal challenges requires focusing on tough choices with regard to entitlement spending and revenues. Regardless of how discretionary spending is handled, the proposed freeze for the next fiscal year is a strong action.
“Additionally, the criticism of the report’s timing appears to be motivated by politics rather than a desire for action to be taken. If we are to have a serious report that will receive careful consideration, it cannot be used as political fodder by either party during an election, and therefore the report should be issued after the election. Frankly, Mr. Boehner's response today only serves to underscore that point.
“It is my continued hope that the Republican leadership will choose to participate in this bipartisan commission, and approach its work seriously, so that it can be a success. Working together, we can put forward bipartisan solutions that Congress can consider that will return our budget to balance. The fiscal challenges facing our nation are too great, however, and the consequences of continued delay too dire, for us not to work together to achieve a return to the fiscal balance we had in the late 90’s.”