WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in support of the Democratic Budget Resolution that begins to clean up the fiscal mess left behind by Republicans. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
"Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to our Republican colleagues, let me say that to hear them talk about fiscal responsibility is nothing less than surreal.
"In this debate on the Fiscal 2008 Budget, many numbers have been used. But only two are really relevant on the issue of fiscal responsibility, and the Republican Party's lack thereof - $5.6 trillion and more than $3 trillion.
"When President Bush took office, he and the then-Republican majorities in Congress inherited a projected 10-year budget surplus of $5.6 trillion. The President proclaimed: "We can proceed with tax relief without fear of budget deficits, even if the economy softens." He promised that he would pay down the national debt, and some in the Administration even worried publicly about paying down the debt too fast.
"Well, as we have learned, the President's projections were unequivocally wrong and worries about paying down the debt were completely misplaced.
"Over the last six years, the President and Republicans in Congress - after enacting the most reckless fiscal policies in American history - have turned a projected surplus of $5.6 trillion into record budget deficits and additional debt of more than $3 trillion!
"In fact, the amount of foreign-held debt has more than doubled under the Bush Administration - from about $1 trillion in 2001 to $2.1 trillion today. And, interest payments on the national debt have increased from $206 billion in 2001 to a projected $256 billion under the President's budget for Fiscal 2008 - consuming more than 20 percent of all individual incomes taxes.
"Let me say, too, that until the American people spoke last November and elected Democratic majorities in Congress, the President never - not once - budgeted the costs of the on-going war in war in Iraq, which today stand at more than $400 billion, with another $100 billion being considered.
"Thus today, Mr. Speaker, with this budget written and offered by Chairman Spratt, House Democrats will take our nation in a new direction and begin to clean up the fiscal train wreck left by Republicans.
"Our budget is a statement of our values and priorities, demonstrating our unwavering commitment to defend our nation, grow our economy, protect our children and strengthen families, preserve our plant, and ensure that the federal government is accountable and efficient.
"First, this fiscally responsible Democratic budget will bring the federal budget back to balance by 2012. Over the next five years, the cumulative deficit in our budget is $234 billion lower than the President's budget.
"Our budget strictly adheres to the pay-as-you-go budget rules that were reinstated in January by the new Majority, and which Republicans allowed to expire in 2002. The Concord Coalition even says this budget is "a successful first test of how seriously they [House Democrats] plan to abide by [the PAYGO] rule."
"Furthermore, this Democratic budget invests in our priorities without increasing the deficit. It provides for a robust defense, boosting homeland security funding and providing $3.5 billion more for veterans' services than the President's request for 2008.
"It also makes critical investments in education, children's health care, transportation infrastructure, and alternative energy research and development - while rejecting the President's request to cut Head Start, LIHEAP, COPS and first-responder programs, and Community Development Block Grants.
"And, our budget accommodates immediate relief for the tens of millions of middle-income households which would otherwise be subject to the alternative minimum tax - while calling for the extension of middle-class tax cuts that are not due to expire until December 31, 2010.
"This is a budget that we can be proud of. And, it stands in stark contrast to the extraordinarily irresponsible policies of the last six years. I urge all of my colleagues: Vote for fiscal responsibility and a bright future for our children. Vote for the budget that reflects our values and meets the needs of the American people. Vote for this Democratic budget."