Hi, everybody—and welcome.
This is our fifth hearing about the War on Poverty. Over the past year, we’ve heard from a number of voices: policy experts, community groups, federal officials. And today, we’re going to hear from the people in the middle—people in the private sector who work with the public sector—people who coordinate state programs with private charity. We’re also going to hear from an especially important voice: Mrs. Tianna Gaines-Turner.
First, Mrs. Gaines-Turner. I was very happy to meet Tianna earlier this year, and I’m excited to hear her testimony. In fact, I want to quote from her previous written testimony, because I think she hits the nail on the head. She says:
Poverty is not just one issue that can be solved at one time. It’s not just an issue of jobs, or food, or housing, or energy assistance, and safety. It’s a people issue. And you can’t slice people up into issues. We are whole human beings. Poverty has to do with a whole person who is in a family, in a neighborhood, in a community.
I think this is exactly right. For too long, the federal government has treated people as numbers—instead of whole people with wholly connected needs.
That’s why I’m also excited to hear from Heather Reynolds, the president of Catholic Charities of Fort Worth. Ms. Reynolds is doing great work in Fort Worth. She’s putting together a pilot project to test how case management can expand opportunity for working families. As Mrs. Gaines-Turner urges, Ms. Reynolds’s program sees people as “whole human beings” who deserve time and care—not just another client to usher out the door. The results speak for themselves. In 2013, 90 percent of the people in their refugee program became self-sufficient within six months.
I’d also like to welcome Jennifer Tiller from America Works. America Works has pioneered two key concepts that are crucial to real reform: work-first and accountability. America Works gets paid only if they succeed. And I can’t find a better definition of success than their own. They say success “is an individual moving to employment, maintaining a self-sufficient lifestyle, and progressing in their desired career trajectory.” I think we should insist on the same accountability from our federal programs as we do from these community groups.
And one last thing. At a previous hearing, some of my colleagues kept asking our witnesses if they had received federal aid—as if that would have undercut their testimony. Look, the point of these hearings isn’t to question whether the federal government should help; it’s to figure out the best way it can help.
With that, I hope we can listen and learn from our witnesses today. And now I’d like to recognize the ranking member for his opening remarks.Read More
Thanks, everybody—thanks, Michèle. After looking at the program, I’d say you have quite the lineup: a four-star general, a PBS news anchor, a national security adviser . . . and a budget guy. Now, some of you might think that’s kind of a letdown, but I’d like to think I’m the entertainment.
And in all seriousness, I’d like to thank you for this opportunity. I don’t get to talk about national security as much as I’d like. So let me begin by saying this: I’m very concerned about where we stand in the world and what it means for us. You might think that working on the budget would narrow your perspective—that national security would become just another number on a spreadsheet. But that hasn’t been my experience. Wrestling with the tough decisions, seeing the hard choices, running on a national ticket and contemplating all that comes with it—it’s made me all too aware of what it takes to keep us safe and how our current policies are falling short.
So I was very interested to watch the president’s speech at West Point last month. I will say I agreed with some of what I heard. But over the past five years, I can’t say I agree with a lot of what I’ve seen. And what I’ve seen is—in far too many cases—the president doesn’t back up his words with actions. It’s not that he says one thing and does another. It’s that he doesn’t do enough. The instinct is to go for the bare minimum—just enough to show concern, but not enough to get results. And after five years, I think it’s worn down our credibility.
And I don’t think this is a tactical mistake. You can’t chalk it up to just a few bad calls. I think it’s a strategic mistake. It’s a deeper misunderstanding of what leadership is. The way he tells it, you can’t lead if nobody will follow you. And nobody will follow you if you’re arrogant and hypocritical. And you know what? He’s got a point. But here’s what he’s missing: Nobody will follow you if you’re weak and indecisive, either.
That’s the problem. It’s not that America might go it alone. It’s that our allies might go their own way—because they’re losing faith in us. Saudi Arabia speaks openly of building nuclear weapons. South Korea and Japan harbor similar thoughts. And all the while Russia, China, and a gang of rogue states continue to disrupt international order. Our allies are anxious, and we’re not reassuring them. They’re calling for help, and nobody’s picking up the phone.
And what it all comes down to—all the hand-wringing and indecision—is how you answer this question: Why should America lead? The president says we’re exceptional because we “affirm” international norms. Well, that’s true. But that’s only part of it. I think America is something more than a team player. We don’t just affirm international norms; we shape them. We make human rights an issue. We make free enterprise the norm. And so America should lead not just because of whom we stand with—but what we stand for: freedom, justice, and the rule of law.
That’s why our allies are so disappointed. We seem to have forgotten that part of our leadership: our vision. When Russia invaded Ukraine, the president spoke with all the moral outrage of an instruction manual. The best he could summon up was “deeply destabilizing.” Well, foreign policy isn’t just a matter of norms. It is also a matter of right and wrong. A leader has to propose and explain and defend a course of action—not just ask for a show of hands. And then—once you make a decision—you have to follow through.
Now, the world isn’t perfect, and we shouldn’t try to make it so. To say we’re the leader isn’t to say we’re always the enforcer. Instead, we’re the chief advocate—for our interests and our principles—because a lot of people in the world share our principles. And when they see a country that stands for the things they believe in and does the things they admire, they want to work with that country. They want to be our partners. That’s why our vision is essential to our security—because nobody will follow you if you don’t know where you’re going.
That’s the issue. Our friends think we’re adrift, and our rivals think we’re sinking. Our credibility is at risk, and with it our security.
So our job, as I see it, is to rebuild our credibility—both our resources and our reputation. We have to develop the full range of our power. And yes, that means we have to develop our military. But we shouldn’t be quick to use it. Teddy Roosevelt didn’t say, “Throw a few punches every now and then just to keep them guessing.” He said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick”—because, in a dangerous world, we have to be smart, steady, and at all times clear.
We have to convince our friends—and our rivals—that we are strong. And the most compelling arguments are acts, deeds, concrete achievements. So today I want to propose a strategy for the 21st century—what I’d like to call a strategy for renewal. To rebuild our credibility, we have to renew three sources of our strength: our allies, our military, and our economy.
First, we need to strengthen our allies. We can’t just tell them to do more—we have to help them do more, especially given the dangers we face. Today, the terrorist threat is both direct and diffuse. Over the last three years, RAND estimates the number of hostile militants has doubled. Al Qaeda and its fellow travelers are in nooks and crannies all around the world. And all too often they hide in the shadows of their state sponsors. We should be ready to use every weapon in our arsenal to root them out: drone strikes, direct strikes, economic sanctions. And we should deny weapons of mass destruction to their state sponsors.
But the fight against terrorism is global in scope. We can’t fight it alone. We need partners—starting with Afghanistan. On 9/11, it was a terrorist hotbed. Today, it’s a fragile democracy. But our commanders on the ground have said our gains aren’t guaranteed. And yet the president has said he will pull every single one of our troops out by 2016—end of story. In other words, we’ve told our enemies: “Wait us out.”
The commander-in-chief’s focus should be the conditions on the ground. We should bring our troops home as soon as possible—but not before we finish the job. We’ve lost over 6,800 servicemen and women in the War on Terror. And the best way to honor their sacrifice is to complete the work they started.
No country can lean on us forever. But the Afghan people are trying to stand on their own. And we should help them to their feet. The Afghan security forces are now over 300,000 strong. With our help, they’re learning how to provide air cover and gather intelligence. If they stick it out, they will deny a sanctuary to al Qaeda. And if we stick it out, we will secure a valuable ally.
Now, Afghanistan is just the most obvious example. We have to work better with all our allies—all around the world.
In Western Europe, we have to strike a balance. Our friends can’t depend on us for all their defense needs. And we can’t dictate to them all their defense policies. Every member of NATO has pledged to spend at least 2 percent of its economy on defense. But only three countries do—Britain, Greece, and us.
That said, we can’t just tell the others to pony up. It’s not just how much they’re spending—but how they’re spending it. We have to convince them to build a coordinated set of capabilities—a set of tools that together will help secure our shared interests. For instance, we need their help in protecting all of us from the threat of ballistic missiles and cyber warfare.
Now in Eastern Europe, we can’t leave our friends in the lurch. Russia is flexing its muscles these days, and our allies are understandably concerned. We need to make clear that the NATO pledge to common defense isn’t some paper promise. It’s an iron-clad commitment. I’d say the European Reassurance Initiative was a step in the right direction. But we also need to start talks with our allies, so we can strengthen NATO’s permanent military presence on its eastern frontier. Our friends stood with us in Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to stand with them in their hour of need.
Now, there’s another area that demands our attention—and that’s Asia. I recently went on a trip to Japan, South Korea, and China. And it was clear in our conversations they’re a little skeptical of our commitment to the region. We supposedly made a “pivot” to Asia, but we didn’t leave much of a footprint. The numbers speak for themselves: Just under 3,000 Marines are on rotation in Australia. Just four littoral combat ships are to be based in Singapore. With numbers like these, our allies wonder, if they’re in a pinch, will America be there?
They need a reason to believe. And there’s no better reason than the U.S. Navy. If we refuel the U.S.S. George Washington, we can keep eleven aircraft carriers in the fleet. And that way, we will have about three carriers—including the carrier stationed in Japan—forward-deployed at all times.
Whether in Europe or Asia—in Africa or Latin America—we have to strengthen the ties that bind. And I mean all those ties—economic ties, political ties, cultural ties—anything that aligns our interests and promotes a common worldview.
Both our interests and our principles are important—because if we pursue one at the expense of the other, we may end up with neither. For instance, the president has recognized a new Palestinian Authority government that includes Hamas, an unapologetic terrorist organization. We’ve undermined our ally Israel on a key issue, and that makes them only less likely to trust us. If we want to strengthen our allies, the first thing we need to do is strengthen their trust.
And if we want to lead our allies into the 21st century, then we need a military that’s ready for the 21st century. So the second thing we need to do is rebuild our military.
Today, we lead the pack. But our rivals are gaining ground: Last year, Russia increased military spending by 4.8 percent. And China? By 7.4 percent. And us? Well, if we passed the President’s proposed budget, the Army would shrink to its smallest size since World War II . . . the Navy to its smallest size since World War I . . . and the Air Force to its smallest size ever.
Every year he cuts so deeply—and so unevenly—that he’s hurting both our current and our future capabilities. Today, if a major threat arose, only a handful of Army brigades would be ready to deploy. That’s not much of a deterrent. We may have both too little today and far less tomorrow.
Now, I voted for the Budget Control Act—because I thought it would force us to fix our entitlements. But the other side refused. And so the little progress we’ve made against the deficit has come, at least in part, at the expense of our national security. That’s why I negotiated last year’s budget deal—so we could stop the arbitrary cuts to our defense—because the fact is, we need a big upgrade. Today, we’re living off the defense build-up of the Reagan years. In the ’90s, we cashed in the peace dividend. And over the last decade, we’ve acquired some new capabilities, but they won’t be all that useful against the challenges of the future.
Now, government isn’t the most efficient thing in the world. And the Defense Department is no exception. Our equipment is the best out there. But we’re spending too much money and waiting too long to get it. Over the past few years, we’ve canceled nearly every major Army procurement program. We’ve scrapped big parts of the Navy’s modernization plans. And we’ve scaled back procurement of air superiority fighters. We’re just starting to revamp the procurement process, and we can’t let up.
More of the same old equipment won’t do. The times call for a new set of capabilities—like directed-energy weapons and advanced missile defense. These tools will help us maintain the qualitative advantage that has set us apart. But the times also call for a new way of thinking. We have to remember the lessons of counterinsurgency. And we have to prepare for the next generation of threats. Many countries want to restrict our access to the global commons, whether in the Pacific littoral or cyberspace. The threats have changed, and we will have to change with them.
And if we want to meet those threats, we also will have to spend more on defense. But if we just borrow more or raise taxes, we will strengthen one asset by damaging another. So the third thing we need to do is fortify the pillars of the global economy, starting with the main pillar, our economy.
We can’t afford a strong military without a strong economy. We encourage free enterprise abroad, and we could use a little more of it at home. The House Republican budget is full of ideas to rev up economic growth: tax reform, regulatory reform, energy production. But the most important is paying down our national debt.
We can’t be a good neighbor if we’re not the master of our own house. To us, the debt is a liability. To our rivals, it’s leverage. And to our friends, it’s demoralizing. It’s hard to trust a country that’s maxed out its credit cards and taken out a third mortgage. And remember: We issue the world’s reserve currency. That’s a great privilege—one the world thinks we’re abusing. So it’s pretty simple: The greatest threat to American leadership is our national debt.
Today, the world is wondering, do we know how to balance our budget? Do we know how to grow our economy? And the answer has to be a firm, unmistakable yes. That means we have to take on the drivers of our debt. We have to reform our entitlements. If we passed the House Republican budget, we’d strengthen Medicare by giving seniors more choices. We’d pay down our debt. And we’d give job creators the certainty they need. By 2024, economic output would be unmistakably higher—by about $1,100 per person.
And here foreign policy can work hand in hand with domestic policy. If we took full advantage of our shale energy, we’d not only boost our economy—we’d help protect our allies from energy blackmail. We know what to do: Step up our natural-gas exports. Increase production on federal lands. And resist the temptation to over regulate.
But there’s another pillar that needs tending. And that’s China. I could think of no better testament to the potential of free enterprise. And after years of isolation, we welcomed the Chinese people into the world economy. But with its new power, China isn’t trying to bend the rules—it’s trying to rewrite them altogether. It’s stealing our intellectual property. It’s attacking our companies. It’s promoting crony capitalism. In a narrow-minded pursuit of its narrow self-interest, China isn’t trying to uphold market principles but to upend them.
So this is the message we want to get across: The market economy works for us; it can work for them too. And it doesn’t pay to break the rules. Many of China’s neighbors, like Vietnam and Malaysia, can’t stand up to China on their own. But if we pull them together, we can hold China accountable. And the hope, ultimately, is to pull China in too.
A good way to start is trade. The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership would reassure our friends in Eastern Europe. And the Trans-Pacific Partnership would reassure our friends in Asia. And as we draw our friends closer in a time of danger, we’d put our rivals on notice: There are costs to confrontation—and benefits to collaboration.
We can’t withdraw from the world. We have to stay engaged. And if we have to stay engaged abroad, then we have to take care of some business at home. That’s why we have to renew the sources of our strength—to pursue a strategy for renewal.
After a decade of war, our country is a little skeptical about the world and its needs. And that’s more than understandable. That said, I think we need to clear something up: American leadership doesn’t demand a more militarized foreign policy, but a more creative one.
Remember: In 1948, the Soviet Union cut off our access to West Berlin. And how did Harry Truman respond? He didn’t tell our troops to shoot their way through. He didn’t blink either. Instead, he ordered the largest humanitarian effort in our military’s history—a massive airlift to give the people of Berlin food, fuel, and other supplies. He didn’t go to war—he didn’t have to. We showed strength, and our rivals showed respect. That’s the kind of mindset we need today.
You know, Jack Kemp used to say he wasn’t a hawk—he was a heavily armed dove. That’s what I’d like to think I am—and what we all are. We prepare for war so we can keep the peace. We constantly renew our strength so we don’t have to use it. And through it all, our goal is a safe and free America in a safe and free world.
Thank you.Read More
Morning, everybody—and welcome. This is the fourth in our series of hearings on the War on Poverty. We’ve been talking about how to promote upward mobility in America in the 21st century. And today, we’re going to pick up where we left off.
Last time, we heard from people fighting poverty on the front lines. Today, we’re going to hear from people who have worked on the supply lines. We’re going to look at how the states and federal government can better support the fight against poverty.
Because, if we’ve learned anything, it’s that there’s room for improvement. Each year, we spend nearly $800 billion on 92 different programs to fight poverty. And yet the official poverty rate hasn’t budged in years. People can get help if they fall into poverty. But far too many people still can’t earn enough to get out of poverty. And over the past three years, deep poverty has been the highest on record. Clearly, something’s not working. We need to try something new.
And given our history, I’d say we’re due for an adjustment. The last time we made a big change was welfare reform in 1996. That was almost 20 years ago. We all know what happened. Poverty among children of single mothers fell by double digits. We also learned—and our witnesses are unanimous on this point—that work is crucial to fighting poverty.
And there’s another takeaway. Before Congress began drafting legislation, it allowed the states to try out new ideas. The National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies program tested a number of different approaches: work-first programs, education programs, and different mixes between the two. I think that approach—with an emphasis on results, on concrete evidence—is just the mindset we need today.
But times have changed. Today, the biggest means-tested programs are Medicaid, SNAP, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. We spend more on Section 8 housing than we do on TANF. And we haven’t made any serious reforms in almost two decades.
Poverty is a complex problem, and deep poverty is especially difficult. Many people in deep poverty face serious challenges, like addiction, homelessness, and disability. And all these challenges are interrelated. But our current system is too fragmented to give them the care they need. If we can provide better coordinated care, we can help more people get out of poverty.
Today, we will hear from two panels. On the first is our colleague, the assistant Democratic leader, Congressman James Clyburn. He will brief us on the 10-20-30 plan. And to make sure we have enough time to hear from all our witnesses, we will not take questions for Mr. Clyburn.
On the second panel, we will hear from three people who have extensive experience working with aid programs at the federal, state, and local level. First, we have Jason Turner, who worked with Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson to reform our state’s welfare program. Then we have Robert Doar, who served as commissioner of New York City’s Human Resources Administration under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Finally, we have Olivia Golden, who led the D.C. Children and Family Services Agency from 2001 to 2004. Thank you all for being here today and sharing your expertise.
The question I want to answer today is how can we improve? How can we make these programs better? How can we get more bang for the buck? And how can we get more people involved? I’ve said we need to hear from people with different points of view—and from different walks of life. Today, we’ll hear from people who have firsthand knowledge of the challenges we face. And with that, I’d like to recognize the ranking member for his opening remarks.Read More
Higher Education in Brief
Pell Grants: Maintains the current maximum award ($5,730).
Income-Based Repayment: Caps loan payments to 15 percent of discretionary income and forgives loan balance after 25 years.
Stafford Loans: Eliminates the subsidy for interest costs that accrue while students are in school.
The House-passed budget maintains the current maximum award ($5,730) for the Pell Grant program.
The Pell Grant program is on an unsustainable course. Costs have skyrocketed in recent years, from $16.1 billion in fiscal year 2008 to an estimated $26.5 billion in fiscal year 2015. And on the current path, the program will face a shortfall in fiscal year 2017.
But the President continues to make promises he can’t keep: His budget doesn’t fully fund Pell past 2018, so the program could face large cuts in grant amounts, eligibility standards, or both in the near future.
By contrast, the House-passed budget maintains the current maximum award, $5,730, for the next ten years and puts Pell on a sustainable path, so students and their families have the security they need to plan for college.
The House-passed budget caps a borrower’s loan payments to 15 percent of his or her discretionary income and forgives the loan balance after 25 years.
The administration’s current, accelerated income-based-repayment plan caps a borrower’s loan repayments at 10 percent of his or her discretionary income and forgives the loan balance after 20 years.
Just four years ago, Congress made this program more generous, before the program was even three years old—and before it had even shown results. Moreover, the administration’s accelerated expansions could disproportionately benefit high-income borrowers who were graduate and professional students.
Both parties understand the current system is in need of reform: The President’s budget request includes proposals to ensure “high-income, high-balance borrowers pay an equitable share of their earnings as their income rises,” and suggests colleges may be taking advantage of federal loan-repayment programs to increase student debt.
Congress should make sure a program is working before expanding it. This budget provision restores the program to its original intent.
The budget adopts a modest reform proposed by the President’s Fiscal Commission to eliminate the government subsidy for the interest costs that accrue while students are still in school.
Interest doesn’t accrue on subsidized Stafford loans while a student is in school or deferment. Interest does, however, accrue on unsubsidized Stafford loans.
The President’s Fiscal Commission found there is “no evidence that eliminating in-school interest is critical to [the amount a student owes at the completion of their studies] or to individual matriculation.” And because the subsidy manifests as a lower repayment amount over the duration of the loan, it is in effect yet another (fairly opaque) repayment plan. The College Board’s Rethinking Student Aid study group also has argued for “eliminating the distinction between subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans.”
The House-passed budget does not require students to pay interest when they are in school. Rather, federal loans taken out beginning July 1, 2015, would begin accruing interest once they are disbursed, just like unsubsidized Stafford loans today. And like unsubsidized Stafford loans, borrowers would be able to pay the interest that accrued on their loans before they entered repayment if they so chose. Otherwise, the interest would be added to the loan principal, which students would begin to pay back when they entered the repayment period.
The President has tried to limit the in-school interest subsidy in the past.
In 2012, the administration proposed to limit the subsidy to 150 percent of program length, and that proposal became law as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, a transportation bill.,
In addition, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 eliminated interest subsidies during the six-month “grace period” after graduation.
In short, eliminating the in-school interest subsidy is a commonsense reform with bipartisan roots that could put the Stafford Loan program on a more sustainable path.
 Congressional Budget Office, “Discretionary Baseline, Cumulative Surplus/Shortfall, and Funding Gap of the Federal Pell Grant Program―CBO’s April 2014 Baseline,” April 2014.
 Jason Delisle and Alex Holt, “Safety Net or Windfall? Examining Changes to Income-Based Repayment for Federal Student Loans,” New America Foundation, October 2012.
 Department of Education, “Student Aid Overview Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request,” Accessed 8 May 2014.
 Jason Delisle, “Is It Time to End the In-School Interest Subsidy on Student Loans?”, New America Foundation, 11 Nov 2010.
 The College Board, “Fulfilling the Commitment: Recommendations for Reforming Federal Student Aid,” The Report from the Rethinking Student Aid Study Group, September 2008.
 Congressional Budget Office, “CBO’s Reestimate of the President’s 2013 Mandatory Proposals for Postsecondary Education,” March 2012.
 “150% Direct Subsidized Loan Limit: Electronic Announcement #1 — Interim Final Regulations Published,” Federal Student Aid, Information for Federal Aid Professionals, 16 May 2013.
 U.S. Department of Education, “Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Summary ― February 14, 2011,” 14 Feb. 2011.
 “Changes Made to the Title IV Student Aid Programs by the Recently Enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012,” Federal Student Aid, Information for Federal Aid Professionals, 18 Jan. 2012.
WASHINGTON—Today, Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin met with the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss the fight against poverty and the need to promote upward mobility. Upon the meeting’s conclusion, Chairman Ryan released the following statement:
“I want to thank my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus for inviting me to their weekly meeting. We had an engaging and productive discussion.
“There’s no question that poverty is a serious problem, one with many causes and no easy answers. But that’s why we need to confront it. And we need to extend the conversation beyond Washington—to communities all across the country.
“Poverty isn’t just a form of deprivation; it’s a form of isolation. And though government must be part of the solution, everybody needs to get involved.
“The first step to real reform is a frank conversation. We need to figure out what works; we need to learn from people who are fighting poverty on the front lines.
“And that conversation must go both ways. Simply defending the status quo or demanding more of the same is not an answer.
“I was happy to begin that conversation with my colleagues today, and I look forward to working with them in our renewed fight against poverty.”Read More
WASHINGTON—Today, the Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of the President’s fiscal year 2015 budget. Based on CBO’s analysis, the President’s plan would increase spending by $1.1 trillion and raise taxes by almost $1.4 trillion over the next ten years. And unlike the House Republican plan, his budget would never balance—ever. Instead, it would run a $746 billion deficit in fiscal year 2024. Under CBO’s revised estimate, the President’s budget deficits would be $1.6 trillion higher than what he presented to Congress last month.
Upon release of the CBO report, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin issued the following statement:
“This new report is just more confirmation: The President’s budget would take us in the wrong direction. It would take more from families to spend more in Washington. It would hollow out our national defense. It would weaken key priorities like Medicare. And it would never balance the budget—ever.
“That’s why I’m proud that the House passed the Republican budget. Our plan would balance the budget in just ten years and help grow the economy. By getting our debt under control and advancing other pro-growth policies, it would strengthen our economy and help create jobs. The people deserve a government that works for them, not one that buries them in more debt.”Contrast in visions
After removing gimmicks, the President’s budget increases spending by $1.1 trillion.
The House-passed budget cuts spending by $5.1 trillion.
President’s budget increases taxes by $1.4 trillion.
The House-passed budget calls for revenue-neutral tax reform.
The President’s budget never balances—ever.
The House-passed budget reaches balance in 2024.
“Mr. Chairman, what this debate comes down to is a question of trust.
“We’ve offered a budget because we trust the American people. Unlike the Senate Democrats who have once again punted and not even offered a budget this year, we trust the people to make an honest assessment. We trust them to make the right choice for their future.
“Now, to their credit, the House Democrats have offered budgets as well. The problem is, they put their trust in Washington. Every time you hear the word 'investments' just know what that means—take from hardworking taxpayers, borrow more money from our next generations and from other countries, and spend it in Washington.
“Time and again, they are proposing to put government in the driver’s seat. They’ve already engineered a takeover of our entire health-care sector. They’re over-regulated our energy sector. They’re depriving us of jobs, and they won’t even give us the Keystone Pipeline. They’re proposing new taxes—another $1.8 trillion tax increase. They’re proposing more cronyism. They’re proposing more control from Washington, which is less control of our communities, less control over our businesses, less control over our lives, less control over our futures.
“In my respectful opinion, it is a vision that is paternalistic, arrogant, and downright condescending. You know, big government in theory—it sounds compelling. In practice, it’s totally different. Remember if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor? Remember if you like your health-care plan you can keep your healthcare plan? Remember if government takes over this sector it will lower your costs? Big government in practice is so different than the theory. The results have nothing to do with the rhetoric.
“We, on the other hand, trust the people. We are offering a balanced budget that pays down the debt. We are offering patient-centered solutions, so that patients are the nucleus of the health-care system, not the government. We’re offering a plan to save Medicare now and for future generations. We’re offering a stronger safety net with state flexibility, to help meet people’s needs and to help people get from welfare to work to make the most of their lives. We’re offering pro-growth tax code. We’re offering more energy jobs.
“You can boil the differences down to one question: Who knows better? The people or Washington? We have made our choice with this budget. I trust the American people to make theirs.
“Mr. Chairman, let’s call the vote.”
The world is less safe when America doesn’t lead. But for President Obama, this lesson has yet to sink in. In February, he offered a budget that would cut crucial funding for our national security. So tomorrow, House Republicans will pass a budget that would give our troops the funding they need.
First, let’s put things in perspective: For decades, defense spending made up roughly 50 percent of the federal budget. Today, it’s just 18 percent. And if we stay on the current path, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that defense will fall below 10 percent by 2024.
The reason? Entitlement programs and interest payments are growing out of control. Government spending on health care is set to skyrocket. Interest payments are projected to quadruple over the next decade.
But the Obama administration sees no need for alarm. Year after year, his administration has cut defense spending, all while the world has grown more dangerous. And rather than confront the entitlement challenge, he’s creating new open-ended spending programs and attacking our good-faith reform efforts.
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