Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi Statement at House/Senate Joint Hearing on President Bush’s Budget Proposal

February 7, 2003



Washington, D.C. - House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi gave the following opening statement this morning at a hearing sponsored by the House and Senate Democratic Policy Committees to examine President Bush’s fiscal year 2004 budget proposal:

"Thank you Senator Dorgan for your leadership, and for convening today’s hearing. And thank you to the Democratic Leader in the Senate, Senator Daschle. I will reinforce some of the comments he has made.

"The budget of our country should be a statement of our national values. What is important to us as a country should be reflected in the budget in terms of the allocation of resources. Sadly, that is not the case with the President’s budget.

"I’d like to think that there wasn’t a credibility gap that Senator Daschle talked about. He and I both talked about the credibility gap before the State of the Union Address. And we said, hoping not to be right, that there will be a credibility gap between the rhetoric that you will hear in the State of the Union Address and the reality of the President’s budget.

"President Bush likes to talk about issues that are important to working families - prescription drug coverage for seniors, educating our children, access to quality health care, protecting the environment, and securing our homeland.

"Yet time and time again, his actions fail to live up to his rhetoric, and no place is that more concretely demonstrated than in the budget. The figures speak for themselves. The budget that was proposed by the Administration this week is a perfect example of the widening credibility gap between rhetoric and reality.

"President Bush's budget fails to fund the important priorities and values that he so eloquently spoke of in his State of the Union Address just the week before.

"This budget makes the President’s priorities clear. In order to make room for a $1.3 trillion tax cut, when you include the interest, his budget short changes the very things he trumpeted in his State of the Union address.

"The centerpiece of those tax cuts is his economic so-called “stimulus” proposal, that will give most Americans less than $2 per week, and most millionaires nearly $2,000 per week. That is not a reflection of American values of fairness, opportunity, and security.

"The Bush budget creates deficits of more than $300 billion this year and next, spends the entire Social Security and Medicare surpluses, and adds $2.1 trillion to our national debt, leaving enormous budget problems for our children and threatening the retirement security of their parents and grandparents just as the Baby Boom generation is retiring.

"We should be investing in our children. Instead, we are indebting our children long into the future with this deficit and debt.

"The budget falls $9 billion short of the amount promised for 2004 in the No Child Left Behind Act. How can that be? The bulk of that shortfall -- $6 billion -- hits Title 1, the program that provides additional resources to high-poverty schools. This Administration has already labeled more than 8,000 high-poverty schools as failing, yet it denies the funding promised to turn those schools around.

"The Bush budget fails to provide anything for struggling states, fails to create jobs, fails to fund vulnerabilities in homeland security, and weakens Medicare by forcing seniors into private plans to obtain drug coverage. Yes, the President’s Medicare plan is about choice. You can either have your choice of physician or you can choose to have prescription drugs. But you can’t have both.

"As far as homeland security is concerned, this budget falls $4 billion short of what nonpartisan experts on the subject say would be needed to protect the American people. The list goes on and on.

"Rising unemployment, growing deficits, and the threat of terrorism have made these times uncertain. The American people expect leadership. Instead, the administration is offering empty promises and tax breaks that benefit largely the wealthy. We want tax breaks for all Americans. We want to reward success. We want the wealthy to enjoy tax breaks too, but not in such a disproportionate way that undermines any sense of fairness.

"We must do better.

"So again, I thank you Chairman Dorgan and all of our witnesses for sharing your experience and your expertise. I look forward to the testimony."


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