|Statement on the Republican Budget Resolution|
|Wednesday, 24 March 1999 19:00|
I am opposed to the Republican budget resolution because I believe it emphasizes
exactly the wrong priorities for America's future and does little to make our
communities more livable. By approving this document, we are ignoring the
negative effects this budget would inflict on the health of our communities, our
infrastructure, and our economy for the next decade.
If I had my way, I would place more priority on paying down the debt, saving Social Security and Medicare, avoid costly new tax cuts and unnecessary. Unfocused defense spending, and develop a capital budget to account for infrastructure investments for a more livable future. However, this budget resolution doesn't extend the solvency of those trust funds by a single day, and instead of paying down the debt, offers tax cuts that primarily benefit those who need help the least. It also calls for unfocused increases in some aspects of our military spending without assurances that any of this spending will increase our overall security. An example of this is the call for new "Star Wars" spending, an unproven system on which we've already spent over $60 billion in research with nothing to show for it.
It fails to give America's communities the tools they need to improve their quality of life. The "Building Livable Communities" initiatives embodied in the Administration's budget offered increased choices for citizens in the areas of transportation, housing, regional planning, open space preservation, education, and crime control. The Democratic alternative recognizes the importance of these initiatives through a Sense of the House resolution. I believe we have a responsibility to do all we can to have the federal government be a better partner with communities and citizens in their efforts to improve very basic components of everyday life -- getting to work and school safely, ensuring the quality of the water we drink and the air we breathe, and having economic opportunities for the future.
It should also be noted that long-term budget projections are nearly always miscalculated, and have been overly optimistic by over $200 billion on average over the last 15 years. Even small errors and changes in the economic picture can drastically alter what the government collects and spends. A forecasting error of as little as 2% can alter the budget balance by as much as $70 billion annually. Future military conflicts, slower economic growth, stock market fluctuations, decisions by the Federal Reserve, currency values, natural disasters, and any number of other variables can also radically alter what the government spends and takes in.
Therefore it is unwise to push massive tax cuts years down the line, when it is impossible to know what our economic situation will be. Only by remaining fiscally cautious now and investing in America's infrastructure can we make this a budget that helps make our communities more livable.
This proposed budget would be a disaster if it were implemented. It siphons nearly a trillion dollars into tax cuts paid for with painful and unnecessary budget cuts, while ignoring key investments that need to be made in education, Social Security, and health care. The good news is that it won't be adopted in this form because even the Republicans have no intention of implementing it. The bad news is that it is a license to avoid responsible budgeting. I urge my colleagues to vote no and instead strive to produce a budget that promotes livable communities and fiscal stability.