Pelosi: 'This Budget is Reckless and Irresponsible'
Pelosi: 'This Budget is Reckless and Irresponsible'
March 17, 2005
Washington, D.C. - House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke today on the House floor in opposition to the Republicans' budget proposal. The budget passed by a vote of 218 to 214, with no Democrats voting for it. Below are Pelosi's remarks:
"Mr. Speaker, in 1994, the first item in the Republicans' Contract with America was the 'Fiscal Responsibility Act.' Republicans pledged 'to restore fiscal responsibility to an out-of-control Congress, requiring them to live under the same budget constraints as families and businesses.'
"The budget deficit for this year is a record $427 billion. The February budget deficit, my colleagues, of $114 billion, is the highest monthly deficit ever and the first time it ever went over $100 billion for one month.
"In 2001, President Clinton left President Bush with a projected $5.6 trillion surplus. In just four years, President Bush has turned that record surplus into a record deficit of nearly $4 trillion, a $10 trillion swing in the wrong direction.
"Make no mistake; these deficits are the direct result of huge tax cuts for the wealthy, a refusal to pay-as-you-go, poor planning for a war of choice in Iraq. The list goes on and on.
"Tragically, this budget is yet another missed opportunity to return to fiscal discipline.
"It does not cut the deficit in half. In fact, it makes the deficit worse. The budget leaves out the realistic cost of the war, the cost of expiring tax provisions, the true cost of fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax, and the cost of any change to Social Security.
"The budget is dishonest in another way. It fails to show any deficit figures at all after 2010.
"In our New Partnership for America's Future, Democrats have made a commitment to honor the value of accountability, including eliminating deficit spending and holding those in power accountable for their actions with a high ethical standard. We support honest, accountable budgets that pay-as-you-go. The budget alternative offered by Mr. Spratt achieves balance by 2012.
"The budget never reaches balance. It heaps tons of debt onto our children and grandchildren and it will eventually lower our standard of living. We cannot let that happen to our country. And on top of all of that, the budget undermines the solvency of Social Security.
"While the House Leadership ignores the real crisis of ballooning budget deficits, the President falsely claims there is a crisis in Social Security. But just because the President says it, doesn't make it so.
"He is simply wrong. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Social Security's trust fund will grow every year until a high of $8.3 trillion in 2032 and continues to be solvent until 2052.
"I want to call your attention to this chart, my colleagues. The left bar represents the deficit in the general fund between now and 2035, a staggering $15 trillion. The Bush Administration has taken us on to a trajectory that will take us to a $15 trillion in deficit to 2035. From 2006 to 2035, $15 trillion in deficit.
"This bar here, the second bar, Social Security 2006 to 2080, more than twice as long, the Social Security deficit is $2 trillion. It is clear that there would be plenty of money to deal with the Social Security trust fund if the President was not using the Social Security trust fund as a slush fund to give tax cuts to the wealthiest people in America.
"How on earth are they going to pay the Social Security trust fund back if they have gone broke on the other side by running up these deficits in the general fund?
"Democrats will keep America's promises to our seniors. We have done it before, and we will do it again. When Bill Clinton was President, we had three years of surplus. Imagine it: zero deficits. Now we have $427 billion in deficit this year, over $100 billion dollars in deficit in the month of February alone, and when President Clinton was President, the three years at the end of his term we had zero deficit. And with the surpluses that were produced, he was able to pay nearly $400 billion off of our indebtedness, strengthened the solvency of Social Security.
"Likewise, the Democratic alternative that was offered today included pay-as-you-go rules that would block new tax or spending legislation that is not paid for.
"Not only is the budget fiscally reckless and dishonest, it is morally irresponsible. The leaders of five Protestant denominations, the Episcopal Church USA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church, recently called President Bush's budget 'unjust.'
"They reminded us of the words of the prophet Micah: 'What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?'
"Does this budget do justice for Americans? You be the judge.
"Is it doing justice to our children to give tax cuts to people making more than $500,000 a year, while underfunding Head Start, No Child Left Behind, student loans and grants, and other education initiatives by $2.5 billion? Is that doing justice to our children?
"Is it doing justice to our communities to give tax cuts to the wealthy while funding for the community police and local firefighters who are vital to our homeland security is cut by $280 million?
"Is it doing justice to those who serve in uniform to give those tax cuts, while underfunding health care benefits for veterans by $14 billion short of what's needed over the next five years? Is that justice for our veterans?
"And is it doing justice to give tax cuts for the wealthy, while launching a shameful attack on the poor?
"This budget cuts $20 billion from Medicaid, a cut that governors on a bipartisan basis oppose and that the other body, today, has just rejected.
"It undermines the Community Development Block Grant initiative with an ill-considered restructuring and a massive 35 percent cut. It makes huge cuts to the Earned Income Tax Credit which takes two million children out of poverty. But this budget makes cuts there.
"No. This budget does not do justice; it does great damage to our country. Instead of being a statement of our values, this budget is an assault on our values. And it is a blueprint for financial disaster.
"I urge my colleagues to return to fiscal discipline, to honor our values, and to oppose this disgraceful budget."