Sessions Issues Opening Statement At Budget Committee ‘Mark-Up’
“The effective cancellation of this mark-up puts in crystal focus that the Senate’s Democrat leadership is determined to go to November without ever bringing a budget to the floor… They have proven themselves unable to meet the defining challenge of our time. But if Republicans are honored with a Senate majority next year, we will conduct a real mark-up and we will pass an honest budget. And it will change the debt course of America.”
WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, submitted the following statement for the record today at the Committee’s meeting to discuss Chairman Conrad’s budget plan. Senators were not allowed to offer any amendments or take any votes on the plan:
“Chairman Conrad, I am sorry that your conference has prevented you from conducting a genuine budget committee mark-up. Votes and amendments have been cancelled, which lie at the heart of what a mark-up is all about. Republicans on the Committee were working to draft crucial amendments and offer our ideas for public votes right up until the moment of your announcement. It is clear to me that your fellow Senate Democrats protested and wished to avoid this public accountability. It is not easy, for sure, to step out and declare a position on the tough issues like these.
I know you have fought within your party to fulfill the duties of this committee, but your leadership in the Senate has been explicit in saying they will not pass a budget and they will not allow their party to offer a plan. Thus, 2012 will be the third straight year this body’s Democrat majority has refused to bring before the full Senate its vision for the financial future of our Republic. And let me remind those listening today that the adoption of a budget resolution is not optional—it is required by law.
Congress also has a moral duty to present a long-term plan to the public for how it plans to spend their dollars and safeguard our exhausted Treasury. President Obama once said that budgets are an “economic blueprint for this nation’s future.” I agree. That is why I find it so unthinkable that the last time the party governing this chamber delivered an economic blueprint to the American people was 1,085 days ago.
All of this at a time our nation has never faced a more severe, systemic financial threat. Our nation’s total debt is larger than the combined debt of the entire Eurozone and the United Kingdom combined—even though the size of our economy and population are smaller. Our per-person debt is worse than even Greece.
Yet the Senate is run by a conference in Washington that feels no need to offer a budget plan to the American people. Their leader says it’s foolish for them to bring forth a budget.
It has been widely reported that Democrat leaders are shunning budget work because they want to spare their conference from voting on tough amendments, particularly on health care. I am sure that this is true.
But the problem goes even deeper: the Senate’s Democrat leaders are unwilling to bring a budget plan to the floor because their conference is unable to agree on any plan at all. This stands in stark contrast to the Republican House, which admirably met its duty and put forward a plan to not only avert debt disaster but create a long term path to prosperity.
There are serious issues at stake. Any financial plan that includes the President’s health law is inherently unsound. The promised price tag was $900 billion, but the true cost will be $2.6 trillion for the first full ten years of implementation.
Despite tax increases, the proposal will add at least $500 billion to the debt by the end of this decade and at least $2 trillion by 2030. One of the things we would have explored at length during this mark-up is the appalling gimmicks and accounting tricks used to conceal the law’s true cost from the American people. Central to this is the Medicare double-counting in the bill—a deliberate attempt to mislead the country regarding at least $400 billion in funds that will add to the debt. But that’s only the short-term.
The long-term unfunded obligation imposed by the health law is $17 trillion—more than double the $7 trillion in unfunded liability of Social Security. We planned to make an effort to try and strip the fiscally ruinous health law from the Chairman’s mark. The President’s health law is so financially unsound that it cannot remain the law of the United States.
I am also disappointed that the Chairman’s proposal, while doubling down on this new unfunded obligation, contains no real reforms to save our existing entitlements.
The Chairman also proposes no net spending cuts. Here are the numbers: after the adoption of the Budget Control Act, we were on path to spend about $44 trillion over the next ten years. The Chairman’s budget proposes to spend $44.04 trillion. Over the course of the next ten years, under the Chairman’s proposal, spending would increase by 50 percent. That’s a $10,600 increase for every American household.
Meanwhile, the Government Accountability Office recently identified $400 billion that Washington is spending every year on wasteful and duplicative programs.
Just think about how much money is being wasted over the course of a decade. How can we justify increasing taxes when government spending has never been more out of control?
At the same time, the Chairman proposes a colossal tax increase of $2.6 trillion—$600 billion more than the President’s budget. This is another tax-and-spend plan. It is a bailout for big spenders. It is unthinkable that we would raise taxes at a time when government is wasting money in every conceivable way.
Tax dollars are being thrown away at lavish parties for the GSA in Las Vegas, luxury trips to Hawaii, and loans to companies like Solyndra. Stimulus money was even used to buy a new engine for a city yacht in Los Angeles.
How could we even think of raising taxes when agency after agency is spending so recklessly? We need to go through every agency, department, and program and put a stop to taxpayer abuse before we ask the American people for more money.
That is why I propose the Solyndra Rule: instead of raising taxes to pay for more waste, put a stop to the wasteful spending. We planned to offer amendments consistent with this principle.
We also hoped to get the opportunity to offer amendments expanding domestic energy production. In 2011, oil production on federal lands dropped by an average of 275,000 barrels a day. Utilizing these resources would not only place downward pressure on gas prices, but it would reduce our trade imbalance, put more money in Americans’ pockets, create millions of jobs, and provide a huge source of revenue for the US Treasury.
The effective cancellation of this mark-up puts in crystal focus that the Senate’s Democrat leadership is determined to go to November without ever bringing a budget to the floor. They cannot and will not present their financial plan to the American people before November.
Meanwhile, President Obama has offered in back-to-back years the two most irresponsible budgets in history. The first was defeated 97-0 in the Senate and this year’s budget was defeated 414-0 in the House.
President Obama’s budget would have achieved virtually no deficit reduction at all, would have produced $11.3 trillion in new gross debt, and would have raised taxes nearly $2 trillion to pay for a $1.6 trillion spending increase.
The tax-and-spend government promoted by big spenders will not produce the compassionate result its architects claim. Uncontrolled government spending turns the social safety net into a restraining harness that too often places the dream of financial independence out of reach. It slows growth, destroys jobs, and diminishes opportunity.
As government grows, the middle class shrinks. And the more power centralizes in Washington, the more those with Washington clout and connections are able to rig the game in their favor—while everyday Americans are bound-up in an endless maze of bureaucratic red tape. The pursuit of big government is bankrupting our Treasury. If we stay on this current path we will find out exactly what unsustainable means.
In the history of our nation, we have never faced a more severe financial threat and never needed a budget more than now.
The Senate’s Democrat Majority is planning to go a third straight year without offering and adopting a financial plan for America. They have proven themselves unable to meet the defining challenge of our time.
But if Republicans are honored with a Senate majority next year, we will conduct a real mark-up and we will pass an honest budget. And it will change the debt course of America.”
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