Committee on the Budget

Tom Price

Price: Restoring the Trust Will Help Achieve Budget Vision, Positive Solutions


WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Sunday's C-SPAN's “Newsmakers,” House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, M.D. (GA-06) highlighted Restoring the Trust for All Generations – an initiative the House Budget Committee started this year to raise awareness about the tremendous fiscal and policy challenges inherent in the nation's health, retirement and economic security programs. Chairman Price discusses how the initiative would help Congress achieve the important solutions we outline in our budgets – like saving and strengthening Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – by building a critical mass of support for reform.


"...We seem to pass a budget, and it’s full of all sorts of great things. A budget that balances within a 10 year period of time. Doesn’t raise taxes. Saves over $5 trillion. Puts us on a path to paying off the debt. Outlines a way to save, strengthen and secure Medicare and Medicaid. Defines a process for helping save Social Security. And then we move on.

"Which is precisely why the Budget Committee this year started a project that we call Restoring the Trust for All Generations. It’s a project to try to raise the visibility and create that critical mass of, yes, individuals in this town who understand and appreciate the need for getting our spending programs under control and saving, strengthening, and securing those mandatory automatic spending programs. But also creating the critical mass across this great land of people who will elect individuals, who will demand of their representatives that those issues be addressed.

"We are over $18 trillion in debt. Within a few short years we will be spending over $1 trillion annually, every single year on just interest on that debt. That’s more than we will spend on defense. It’s more than we will spend on education, on energy, on all sorts of things. That’s unacceptable to me, and that’s why we’ve started our project."


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Price on Refugees Bill, President's Veto Threat & Fight Against ISIS


WASHINGTON, D.C. – On yesterday's C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers,” House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, M.D. (GA-06) discussed the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, the action in the House of Representatives to address concerns with the current refugee program, President Obama's veto threat of that legislation and his administration's failure to put forth a plan to defeat ISIS.


"The Administration hasn’t defined a strategy. They refuse to engage in this issue in a way that would make it so that we actually defeat ISIS and stop terrorism coming from that entity. So what the House did this past week was to say because the Homeland Security Secretary and because the Director of the FBI  says we aren’t able to be certain that folks coming in in the refugee program actually are coming here and not having any association with terrorist groups. They aren’t able to say that. And since they're not able to say that, we ought to pause the program or stop the program right now, and put it on a posture of making certain that they are able to vet these individuals in a proper way. …

“To have the president say – even though in spite of his Homeland Security Secretary saying that they aren’t able to appropriately vet these individuals…to have the president say he’s not going to listen to that, and he’s going to continue to allow people into this nation that he cannot with any certain degree of certainty at all know that they don’t have past ties to terrorism; this is a very very troubling event.”




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Price Opening Statement: Does Biennial Budgeting Fit in a Rewrite of the Budget Process?


As Prepared for Delivery

Good morning and thank you all for being here.

Today’s hearing is part of our ongoing effort at the House Budget Committee to focus time and attention on reforming the Congressional budget process.

To understand the impetus for reform, one need only look at the history of writing budgets under the current process. Deadlines are routinely missed – sometimes deliberately – and appropriations bills are often combined into massive, omnibus measures that give little time for proper review.

All of this is occurring because the budget process is outdated, cumbersome, needlessly complex, and almost impossible to understand. It encourages more government spending by default. And most disturbing, its shortcomings can lead to the erosion of Congress’ power of the purse, further ceding authority to the Executive Branch and diminishing the role of the legislature in our Constitutional framework. The degradation of budgeting impedes our ability to govern responsibly.

These are not conditions that can be cured with a few piecemeal remedies. That is why this committee has called for a wide-ranging, wholesale approach to reforming the budget process – to upend the current system and start over with policies that will enforce budget and fiscal discipline, and reinforce constitutional government.

Early this year, our committee held a hearing on the first principles of budget process reform. In that hearing we discussed many of the challenges we face in this endeavor and the guiding principles that should lead our reform effort. Those included exercising constitutional control to ensure a healthy balance of power between Congress and the Executive; promoting fiscal responsibility; increasing oversight; and developing a better understanding of how much money government programs and policies are actually costing American taxpayers.

Those principles should help guide our consideration of individual budget reform solutions as well.

As Chairman of the House Budget Committee, I welcome and encourage anyone who is willing to engage in this conversation and bring ideas to the table. As members of Congress, we have a vested interest in having a budget process that is more easily understood and better equipped to positively inform our broader legislative efforts. The American people have everything to gain from a budget process that forces their elected representatives to govern in a more efficient, effective and accountable manner.

So, we all have reason to participate in this effort, and that is why I am grateful to have our colleague Congressman Reid Ribble here today to discuss his biennial budgeting proposal.

Biennial budgeting as a concept is not a new idea. Indeed, it has been – in one form or another – part of the budget process reform discussion as far back as the enactment of the 1974 Budget Act.

Today, our goal is to further the discussion and examine the merits of biennial budgeting to answer the question: “Does biennial budgeting fit in a rewrite of the budget process?”

That’s the same question we will need to ask of each and every potential solution that might come forward in this endeavor. Any potential reform should be viewed in the context of an overhaul of the entire budget process and where it fits into the broader goals laid out in our principles. And, through transparent consideration and scrutiny of each proposal we will advance this cause in a fair and constructive manner. 

Biennial budgeting is an idea that deserves rigorous debate to better understand what the implications would be –for the work of this committee, our appropriators, our authorizing committees and our shared pursuit of oversight over the nation’s fiscal well-being. Were we to shift to biennial budgeting, it would fundamentally change how Congress operates. Therefore, all its ramifications should be weighed carefully and thoughtfully.

I look forward to hearing Congressman Ribble’s testimony on his bill – and from Congressman David Price, who has had a long interest in this subject. And I look forward to hearing from our second panel of budget experts who will be able to lend their background and expertise to this discussion.

We’ll hear from Alice Rivlin, a former director at CBO and now a senior fellow at the Brooking Institution, Rudolph Penner, a former director at CBO and now a fellow at the Urban Institute, and Philip Joyce, the Senior Associate Dean and Professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy.

Thank you all for taking the time out of your busy schedules to be here. The committee looks forward to your testimony and discussing the potential pros and cons of moving to a biennial budgeting system.

As I stated at the outset, our Congressional budget process has a profound impact on far more than just the budgets we produce in this committee. It is fundamental to the constitutional responsibilities of Congress as well as our duty as elected representatives to be good stewards of the tax dollars of hard-working Americans. With that in mind, I look forward to a positive and productive discussion.

I yield to the ranking member, Mr. Van Hollen.

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"Some of These Programs are Very Transactional...But They're Not Transformational"


WASHINGTON, D.C. – During the House Budget Committee's Wednesday hearing, Restoring the Trust for America's Most Vulnerable, Robert Doar, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, made the case that while today's safety net programs often succeed in providing poor Americans with a material benefit, they do very little in helping encourage people to take the next step toward achieving a real transformation that will lead to a brighter, more secure future:

“I think we learned from welfare reform that you need both support, but also some case management, some pushing. And some of these programs are very transactional - they are very good at figuring out how to get you the assistance - but they're not transformational. They don't help people move up and into more work."

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"Right now, there is no exit strategy"


WASHINGTON, D.C. – During yesterday's Restoring the Trust for America's Most Vulnerable hearing at the House Budget Committee, Larry Woods, the CEO of the Winston-Salem Housing Authority, said that our social safety net is effective at catching people when they fall on hard times, but it doesn't help them rise back up and build a life of self-sufficiency:

“Our current system is broken. Plain and simple. It's broken because our approach is flawed. Representatives, it's not about throwing more money at this problem. It's not about pulling money away from this problem. It's about implementing policies that actually provide a positive exit strategy for getting people out of the safety net. Right now, there is no exit strategy. We have spent much of our time trying to make sure the net is there. But we've lost focus on what happens next when someone enters that system."
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Chairman Price Opening Statement: Restoring the Trust for Vulnerable Americans


Good morning and thank you all for being here.

In September, the United States Census Bureau released its annual poverty report that stated the official poverty rate in 2014 was 14.8 percent. For the fourth straight year, the rate has remained roughly the same. No one statistic paints a complete picture, but it does stand to reason that if, after trillions of dollars spent on assistance for poor and low-income Americans across dozens of different programs, and 46.7 million Americans are still living in poverty, we can do better.

Today’s hearing will give us an opportunity to talk about how we can do better and, hopefully, identify ways to improve the efficacy of America’s safety-net programs. This is our second hearing as part of the House Budget Committee’s new initiative called Restoring the Trust for All Generations. As I have said previously, this initiative is not about numbers and budgets. It’s about helping Americans by saving and strengthening vital programs so they can serve those who need assistance today and in the future.

Currently, the broad array of safety-net programs meant to support low-income and vulnerable Americans are, in many ways, failing to deliver the type of quality assistance promised. While many Americans do not get the help they truly need, too many others get stuck in the current complex web of programs. That leads to a situation where, for all the assistance provided, these programs are not fulfilling the ultimate goal of lifting our fellow citizens out of poverty and on to a path of self-sufficiency.

And that ought to be our ultimate goal. Not a system that just sustains individuals but one that gives them the opportunity to fulfill their potential, to rise up and build a life where they can take pride in their contributions to our economy and society; where they can raise a family or own a home if they so choose.

To achieve those types of results, we need to reexamine and refocus our efforts and resources on a safety-net system that is aimed at allowing more American dreams to be realized.

First, we need a safety net that actually works when people need it. Right now, millions of Americans are on Medicaid, but they are not truly getting access to quality health care. Job-training programs are duplicative and ineffective. And resources like food stamps and housing assistance are bogged down in bureaucracy and waste. It’s time to stop measuring the success of these programs by how much money we spend and instead focus on how many people are we actually helping.

Second, we need to make sure the money we spend is going to people who truly need the help. Americans deserve to have their tax dollars used responsibly and fraud and abuse within these programs robs resources from the most vulnerable.

Finally, we need a safety net that encourages people to move into lives of self-sufficiency. We need to catch people when they fall on hard times, but we do not want them to get stuck. We need programs that act as a trampoline so that they can quickly bounce back up and into lives where they have the opportunity and pride of working and providing for themselves and their families.

If we follow these principles and we listen to the folks who are on the front lines of this struggle each and every day – whether in the programs, administering the programs, or building a more innovative approach to caring for America’s most vulnerable – I am confident we can achieve and help others achieve a brighter future.

That is why I am grateful to have today’s panel of witnesses here to discuss how we go about building that brighter future.

First, we have Larry Woods, the CEO of the Winston-Salem Housing Authority. Mr. Woods grew up in public housing. And because of the strong incentives at the time to build a life of self-sufficiency, he and his family did exactly that – the true definition of the American dream. He’s now looking to replicate those successes for others in his community. 

Next, we have William McGahan, the Chairman of Georgia Works, a private sector organization in Atlanta that’s fighting homelessness, poverty, and criminal recidivism. They have developed a program that employs an innovative approach to lifting individuals up and out of poverty, helping them find a path to self-sufficiency and the personal pride and dignity that comes with work and building a family.

We also have Olivia Golden, the Executive Director of the Center for Law and Social Policy. She has previously served as Commissioner for Children, Youth, and Families and as Assistant Secretary for Children and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Finally, we have Robert Doar, who is the Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. And before that, he served as the Commissioner of New York City’s Human Resources Administration where he oversaw 12 public assistance programs. I look forward to hearing about Mr. Doar’s experience in managing some of the government’s largest assistance programs.

I look forward to hearing from all of our witnesses. They have spent years not just studying poverty and the government’s efforts to combat these challenges; they have spent their lives working with the very folks we aim to help through reforms to America’s safety-net programs. Their firsthand experience and knowledge will be invaluable to our understanding of these issues.

And with that, I yield to the ranking member, Mr. van Hollen. 
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Price Opening Statement: Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act


As Prepared for Delivery

Mr. Speaker, this year – for the first time in over a decade – Congress adopted a 10-year balanced budget agreement. The House and Senate were able to agree on a plan that would reduce spending by over $5 trillion, save and strengthen important health and retirement programs, provide for a strong national defense and support a growing economy with greater opportunity for more Americans to achieve their dreams.

It is a bold plan at a time in our nation’s history when we face tremendous fiscal and economic challenges – challenges that are being fueled by an ineffective, inefficient and unaccountable government bureaucracy here in Washington. This bureaucracy is interfering in the daily lives and livelihoods of the American people.

The most prominent example of how intrusive Washington has become is the president’s health care law. Obamacare imposes taxes and onerous mandates on individuals, families and job creators. It undermines the sacred doctor-patient relationship. It is driving up the cost of health care with higher premiums and higher deductibles while destroying access to quality, innovative health care choices. It is discouraging work and making job creation and economic growth more challenging – at a time when we are experiencing the worst economic recovery in the modern era.

When Congress passed our bicameral budget resolution earlier this year we initiated a powerful budget process called reconciliation. Under reconciliation, we are able to move legislation through the House and the Senate in an expedited manner and put a bill on the president’s desk. With the legislation before us today, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, we are using this powerful budgetary tool to help end Obamacare’s attack on Americans health care and its attack on our economy.

We are doing so to help pave the way for a more responsive, patient-centered health care system – that puts patients, families and doctors in charge, not Washington.

Under the guidelines of our budget and the rules governing reconciliation, three committees in the House – the Education and the Workforce Committee, Energy and Commerce Committee, and the Ways and Means Committee – produced individual pieces of legislation to repeal major components of Obamacare. The House Budget Committee took those pieces and combined them into one bill, and we have now brought this bill to the Floor.

The Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act repeals the individual and employer mandates, the onerous “Cadillac Tax” and medical device tax, an Obamacare slush fund, as well as undue demands on employers and employees. Additionally, it prohibits for one year taxpayer dollars from being used to pay abortion providers that are prohibited under the legislation while dedicating additional resources for community health centers across the country for women’s health care.

Taken together, the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation estimate this legislation will lower deficits by $130 billion over the 10-year budget window. Roughly $51 billion of those savings would come from the positive macroeconomic effects of what we are proposing. CBO and JCT estimate that the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act would lead to an increase in the labor supply, in economic growth, in capital investment and total compensation. It would also eliminate work disincentives while decreasing federal borrowing.

The major components of Obamacare that are repealed under this legislation represent the core of the coercive nature of the president’s health care law – policies that are forcing people into a health care system that Washington is simultaneously making more expensive, less accessible, and with fewer choices. Nothing in what we are proposing would take insurance coverage away from Americans or their families or preclude anyone from purchasing coverage. We are freeing Americans from government coercion.

The provisions included in this legislation also share another important distinction – they all fall within the limited scope of the reconciliation process. This is vitally important. Reconciliation is not a silver bullet. There are limitations, and if a piece of legislation breaches those limitations it runs the risk of derailing the whole process.

Ultimately, however, this discussion is not about process; it’s about people. It’s about the men and women, the families we have the privilege of representing and who know that the only folks who should be making personal health care decisions are individuals, their doctor and their families.

This debate is about the millions of Americans who have seen their premiums go up and their out-of-pocket costs skyrocket after being told the law would bring those costs down.

This is about low-wage workers – 2.6 million according to the Hoover Institution – who are at risk of seeing their hours cut because of this law.

This is about those Americans – particularly the 1 in 4 Americans living in rural parts of the country – who have found that in many cases their health care coverage comes with such narrow provider networks that they have to travel long distances to find treatment and run the risk of even higher costs.

We can do better by these Americans and all Americans who long for a health care system that is responsive to their needs, accessible, affordable and not contributing to a decline of economic opportunity and job security.

There are positive, patient-centered solutions that would advance the cause of quality health care in this country and none of them require handing over more authority to Washington. Obamacare puts Washington in charge. We want to put the American people in charge of their health care decisions, and an important step in that direction is the legislation we have before us today.

I urge my colleagues – particularly the number of folks on the other side of the aisle who have previously supported many of the provisions in this bill – to vote in favor of this legislation. I look forward to this debate and to moving this effort forward and putting a bill on the president’s desk.

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Price Statement on House Passage of Reconciliation Bill


WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, M.D. (GA-06) issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015:

“The House of Representatives has passed a reconciliation bill that repeals the most coercive components of Obamacare – eliminating onerous taxes, the individual and employer mandates, an Obamacare slush fund, and lifting unnecessary burdens on employers and employees. The bill also prohibits federal funding for abortion providers prohibited under the legislation, while increasing funding for community health centers to help direct more resources to women’s health care. All told, the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act would reduce the deficit by $130 billion over ten years. A sizeable portion of those savings would come from an increase in economic activity, labor supply, and compensation. In other words, this bill provides real relief to individuals, families, workers and our economy at large.

“There are those who believe that with enough bureaucratic engineering, Washington can craft a health care system that will effectively serve the American people. We fundamentally disagree. A health care system that is responsive to the needs of patients, families and physicians will not come by way of Washington decrees or mandates or tax penalties. If you want to increase access to quality, affordable health care, if you want to improve the responsiveness of our health care system, then you need to trust the American people to make decisions for themselves and their families – rather than try to coerce them into some Washington-created definition of care.

“The Senate now has the opportunity to take up our bill or pass a bill of its own that abides by the powerful, but limited reconciliation process. We look forward to working with our Senate colleagues to put a bill on the President’s desk that will help protect the American people from the harmful consequences of Obamacare and pave the way for real, patient-centered health care reform.”

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Price: “Now’s the time to move forward, seize this opportunity, work with the Senate, and put a bill on President Obama’s desk”


WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, M.D. (GA-06) issued the following statement in advance of the House of Representatives consideration of the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act (H.R. 3762):

“Under this year’s balanced budget agreement, Congress has the opportunity to use a powerful but limited legislative process to advance a bill to the president’s desk that will target Obamacare – a law that is doing real harm to individuals, families, physicians, workers and job creators – and help pave the way for patient-centered health care reform. Thanks to the hard work of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, Energy and Commerce Committee, and Ways and Means Committee, we now have a legislative package that abolishes major pillars of Obamacare that are both directly responsible for the coercive nature of this law and within the scope of the reconciliation process. The bill repeals punitive taxes and mandates, an unelected, unaccountable board of bureaucrats empowered to effectively deny care to seniors, undue demands on employers and employees, and an Obamacare slush fund. The bill also imposes a one-year moratorium on taxpayer dollars being used to pay abortion providers that are prohibited under the legislation while increasing resources to community health centers.

“The Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act abides by the reconciliation instructions in our bicameral budget agreement and was approved by the House Budget Committee with unanimous Republican support. Now’s the time to move forward, seize this opportunity, work with the Senate, and put a bill on President Obama’s desk.”


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Price Opening Statement: Reconciliation Markup


As Prepared for Delivery

Good morning and thank you all for being here.

Today, we are reporting a package of legislation submitted by three House committees pursuant to the reconciliation instructions included in this year’s concurrent balanced budget resolution. This is the next step in an ongoing process that will give Congress the opportunity to move legislation through both the House and Senate in an expedited manner and to the president’s desk for his consideration. 
This year – for the first time in over a decade – Congress passed a bicameral, 10-year balanced budget. It is a pro-growth plan to promote job creation and economic opportunity, hold Washington accountable, make government more efficient and effective, support key priorities like our national security as well as health and retirement security, and get our fiscal house in order. Now, because the House and Senate reached agreement on a budget, we have the opportunity to pursue the reconciliation process. 
The FY16 budget resolution states that reconciliation ought to be used to address Obamacare, in an effort to help all Americans gain access to the health care and coverage they want – not that the government forces them to buy – and that’s exactly what we are doing. We are committed to protecting every American from this harmful law and the damage it has done and will do to patients, health care providers, family budgets and job creators. Whether it’s fewer health care choices, less access to care, higher out-of-pocket costs or less medical innovation – Obamacare is an attack on quality health care in our nation.
Last week, the three House committees charged with reconciliation instructions – Ways and Means, Education and the Workforce, and Energy and Commerce – held markups on their respective recommendations. I want to thank Chairman Ryan, Chairman Kline, and Chairman Upton for their hard work and the hard work of their committee members. This is a team effort, and they and their committees have shown real leadership in this endeavor. 
Under the reconciliation process, the role of the House Budget Committee is to combine the recommendations sent over from these three committees into a single bill, and consider that single bill here in our committee before reporting it to the full House for consideration.
A quick review of the policies in this legislation demonstrates a concerted effort to provide relief to the American people from the damage inflicted by Obamacare while focusing resources where they can do the most good. 
The Ways and Means Committee has achieved $37.1 billion in savings by repealing the individual and employer mandates, the so-called “Cadillac Tax” and medical device tax, as well as the Independent Payment Advisory Board – the 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats empowered by Obamacare to make decisions that will effectively deny care to seniors. 
The Energy & Commerce Committee has achieved $12.4 billion in savings by repealing an Obamacare slush fund called the Prevention and Public Health Fund, and they have included an additional policy that would prevent – for one year – taxpayer dollars to be used to pay abortion providers prohibited in the legislation. This is accompanied by more money and resources for hundreds of community health centers so that women have would have greater access to health care.
The Education and the Workforce Committee has achieved $7.9 billion in savings by repealing Obamacare’s employer auto-enrollment for health insurance. 
When these three components are combined into one bill, the total savings is $78.9 billion. 

Together, this package will dismantle many of the key elements of Obamacare that are harming individuals and families, hurting job creation and spending taxpayer dollars on programs with little to no congressional oversight. Our goal is to save the country from this disastrous law and start over with patient-centered health care solutions where patients, families and doctors are making medical decisions, not Washington D.C.
While it is the job of the Budget Committee to combine these recommendations, it is not within our power under the reconciliation process to make substantive changes to the legislation before us. As Section 310 of the Congressional Budget Act states: “each such committee so directed shall promptly make such determination and recommendations and submit such recommendations to the Committee on the Budget of its House, which upon receiving all such recommendations, shall report to its House reconciliation legislation carrying out all such recommendations without any substantive revision.”
Therefore, today’s markup may not include any amendments. There will be an opportunity for motions regarding process, after the legislation is addressed.  
Again, I want to thank the committees who helped draft this legislation for their efforts, and I look forward to today’s debate.
With that, I yield to the Ranking Member, Mr. Van Hollen. Read More

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