Mar 20 2013
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray delivered a speech on the Senate floor kicking off Senate debate of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Resolution. This budget passed the Budget Committee last week with strong support from all of the Democrats and Independents on the Committee.
In her speech on the Senate floor, Chairman Murray laid out how the Senate budget puts jobs and economic growth first, tackles the deficit and debt responsibly, and keeps the promises we’ve made to seniors, families, and communities. She discussed the sharp contrasts between the responsible approach taken by the Senate, and the extreme approach taken by the budget being debated this week in the House.
Link: Summary of Foundation for Growth
Link: The full Senate Budget plan: Foundation for Growth
Link: Additional documents
Key excerpts from Murray’s floor speech:
“… the budget we will be debating on the floor this week puts these people first. It reflects the pro-growth, pro-middle class agenda that the American people went to the polls in support of last election. And I believe it is a strong and responsible vision for building a foundation for growth and restoring the promise of American opportunity.”
“Our budget is built on three principles: number one, we need to protect our fragile economic recovery, create jobs, and invest in long-term growth. Number two, we need to tackle our deficit and debt fairly and responsibly. And number three, we need to keep the promises we’ve made as a nation to our seniors, our families, and our communities.”
“We believe that in order to truly tackle our economic and fiscal challenges in the real world, and not just make them disappear on paper, we need a strong foundation for growth built from the middle out.”
“And after the Senate passes our budget, and the House passes theirs, I am hopeful we can work together, listen to the American people, and come to the balanced and bipartisan deal this country desperately needs.”
Full text of Senator Murray’s Speech Follows:
“M. President, when I go back home to Washington state, my constituents tell me that they are sick and tired of the gridlock and dysfunction in Washington, D.C.
“They can see that our economy is slowly getting back on its feet, that businesses are hiring more and more workers.
“But my constituents, and people across the country, are very frustrated that the constant political crises are holding our recovery back right when we need to be doing everything possible to support it.
“After two years of debate about fiscal and economic policy, and an election in which voters spoke loudly and clearly, the American people want their elected representatives to stop arguing, and reach some solutions.
“M. President, I come to the floor today to discuss a budget plan that meets this challenge.
“The Senate budget passed through the Budget Committee last week with the strong support of all ten Democrats and two Independents. It is a responsible and balanced plan that puts the economy first and tackles our deficit and debt responsibly and credibly.
“And I am hopeful that after it passes the Senate, the House of Representatives stands ready to compromise as well, and we can come together around the balanced and bipartisan deal the American people expect and deserve.
“M. President, the budget debate is too often discussed in terms of abstract numbers and political winners and losers. But the truth is that budgets are about far more than that.
“They are about our values and our priorities. They are about our visions for how government should be serving its citizens today and for generations to come. And most of all, they are about the people across the country whose lives are impacted by the decisions we make.
“M. President, the budget we will be debating on the floor this week puts these people first. It reflects the pro-growth, pro-middle class agenda that the American people went to the polls in support of last election. And I believe it is a strong and responsible vision for building a foundation for growth and restoring the promise of American opportunity.
“Our budget is built on three principles: number one, we need to protect our fragile economic recovery, create jobs, and invest in long-term growth. Number two, we need to tackle our deficit and debt fairly and responsibly. And number three, we need to keep the promises we’ve made as a nation to our seniors, our families, and our communities.
“The highest priority of our budget is to create the conditions for job creation, economic growth, and prosperity built from the middle out, not the top down.
“We believe that with an unemployment rate that remains stubbornly high, and a middle class that has seen their wages stagnate for far too long; we simply cannot afford any threats to our fragile recovery.
“So this budget fully replaces the cuts from sequestration that threaten 750,000 jobs this year alone, and economic growth for years to come, as well as our national security and the programs families and communities depend on. It replaces these automatic cuts in a fair, responsible way, following the precedent set in the year-end deal.
“Half of the new deficit reduction to replace sequestration comes from responsible spending cuts across the federal budget, and half comes from new savings found through closing loopholes and cutting wasteful spending in the tax code that benefits the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations.
“In addition to replacing sequestration with deficit reduction that is far more responsible, our budget follows the advice of experts and economists across the political spectrum who say it makes sense to invest in job-creation in the short term, while putting ourselves on a strong path to responsible and sustainable deficit and debt reduction over the medium and long-term.
“We believe that in order to truly tackle our economic and fiscal challenges in the real world, and not just make them disappear on paper, we need a strong foundation for growth built from the middle out.
“So this budget invests in a $100 billion economic recovery protection plan to put workers back on the job repairing our nation’s highest priority deteriorating infrastructure, and fixing crumbling schools and installing critical educational technology, like broadband, that our students need to succeed.
“This plan creates an infrastructure bank to leverage public funds with private investment. It invests in our workers by making sure they have the skills and training they need to move into the 3.6 million jobs businesses across the country are trying to fill. And it is fully paid for by closing loopholes and cutting unfair spending in the tax code that mainly benefits the well-off and well-connected.
“Our budget also makes sure we aren’t reducing our fiscal deficit while increasing our deficits in education, skills, infrastructure, and innovation.
“While cutting spending responsibly overall, it protects investments in national middle class and economic priorities like our schools, our roads and bridges, and our clean energy and manufacturing industries.
“M. President, this budget puts jobs and the economy first and foremost, but it also builds on the work we’ve done over the last two years to tackle our deficit and debt responsibly.
“In 2010, President Obama established the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, commonly referred to as ‘Simpson-Bowles.’ This bipartisan group came back with a report recommending approximately $4 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years from a balanced combination of spending cuts and new revenue. The report pointed out that this level of deficit reduction is ‘more than any effort in the nation’s history.’
“Other bipartisan groups including Domenici-Rivlin and the Senate’s Gang of Six, as well as economists from across the political spectrum, agreed that $4 trillion over ten years was a reasonable and responsible goal.
“Since that time, Congress and the administration have worked together to reduce the deficit by $2.4 trillion, with $1.8 trillion coming from spending cuts, and $600 billion from allowing tax rates to rise on the wealthiest Americans in the year-end deal.
“M. President, the Senate budget takes us the rest of the way to the $4 trillion goal, and beyond.
“It builds on the $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction already done with an additional $1.85 trillion in new deficit reduction, for a total of $4.25 trillion in deficit reduction since the Simpson-Bowles report.
“It reduces the deficit to below three percent of GDP by 2015 and keeps it well below that level for the rest of the ten-year window in a responsible way, and it pushes our debt as a percentage of the economy down and moving in the right direction.
“Our budget tackles this issue the way the American people have consistently said they want it done, with an equal mix of responsible spending cuts made across the federal budget, and new revenue raised by closing loopholes and cutting wasteful breaks that primarily benefit the rich.
“This budget cuts spending responsibly by $975 billion, and we make some tough choices to get there. We think every program, including the ones we know are important, needs to be wringing out waste, trimming fat, and reducing costs to taxpayers.
“So $500 billion of our deficit reduction comes from responsible savings on the domestic spending side, including $275 billion in health care savings made in a way that doesn’t harm seniors or families.
“We believe everything should be put on the table, but we do it in a responsible way that preserves, protects, and strengthens programs like Medicare and Medicaid that the American people strongly support.
“M. President, this budget saves $240 billion by carefully and responsibly reducing defense spending while giving the Pentagon enough time to plan and align the these savings.
“We know this will involve some tough decisions, but it is a responsible path that is nothing like the across-the-board cuts from sequestration, which would be devastating to defense programs and jobs if they weren’t replaced.
“M. President, this budget takes a balanced approach to deficit reduction and matches the responsible spending cuts with $975 billion in new revenue, which is raised by closing loopholes and cutting wasteful spending in the tax code for those who need it the least, while locking in tax cuts for the middle class and low-income working families, and protecting them from paying a penny more.
“This shouldn’t be controversial; there is bipartisan support for making the tax code more fair and efficient.
“We just think that instead of that savings going toward more tax cuts for the rich, it be used to reduce the deficit and invest in the middle class.
“If this budget were to be enacted, the total deficit reduction since the Simpson-Bowles report would consist of 64% spending cuts, 14% tax rate increases on the rich, and 22% new revenue by closing loopholes and cutting wasteful spending in the tax code for the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations.
“That is a responsible approach. It’s a balanced and fair approach. It’s the one endorsed by bipartisan groups and experts, and it’s the one supported by the vast majority of the American people.
“M. President, in addition to investing in jobs and economic growth and tackling our deficit and debt responsibly, this budget also keeps the promises we’ve made to our seniors, our families, our veterans, and our communities.
“We think Medicare should be protected and preserved for our children and grandchildren. And we absolutely reject calls to dismantle or privatize Medicare by voucherizing it.
“M. President, the House Republican budget being considered this week would also repeal the health care law and: increase the cost of care for seniors, throw students off their parents’ plans, cause tens of millions more Americans to be uninsured, and put the insurance companies back in charge of patients’ care.
“Our budget rejects that approach, and it builds on the heath care law to continue reducing costs responsibly, increasing efficiencies, and improving care.
“Our budget also maintains the key principle that every other bipartisan group has maintained, but that has been rejected by House Republicans: we don’t think the burden of deficit reduction should be unfairly borne by the most vulnerable children and families who have already sacrificed so much.
“Everyone needs to be a part of this solution, but the House Republican approach would shred the safety net that has offered a hand up to millions of families across America, including my own, and we reject that approach.
“M. President, the budget we are considering this week also makes the investments we need to keep our military strong, protect our communities and environment, and uphold the sacred commitment we’ve made to our veterans.
“M. President, I believe our budget reflects the values and priorities of the vast majority of families across the country.
“It is a responsible, credible approach, and it offers a clear path to a balanced and bipartisan deal.
“House Republicans are debating a very different approach this week. The proposal that passed through their Budget Committee would be devastating for our economic recovery and threaten millions of jobs.
“It would make extreme cuts to the investments in infrastructure, education, and innovation that we need to lay down a strong foundation for broad-based economic growth. It would dismantle Medicare and cut off programs that support the middle class and most vulnerable families. And it would do all that while refusing to ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to contribute their fair share.
“M. President, the American people are going to have an opportunity to examine these budgets side by side over the coming weeks. They are going to be able to decide which approach is best for our economy, best for jobs, and best for the middle class. And they are going to have a chance to weigh in.
“And after the Senate passes our budget, and the House passes theirs, I am hopeful we can work together, listen to the American people, and come to the balanced and bipartisan deal this country desperately needs.
“Thank you M. President. I yield the floor.”
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