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Congressman Bobby Scott

Representing the 3rd District of Virginia

CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS--ROAD TO RUIN: HOUSE REPUBLICANS FAIL ON THE BUDGET

April 18, 2016
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for getting the title of our State correct. I thank the gentleman from New York and the gentlewoman from Ohio for yielding and organizing tonight's Special Order.

   Last week, the House of Representatives failed to pass a budget by the statutorily mandated date of April 15. This failure is unfortunate for our budget process, but perhaps not unfortunate for the American people because no budget is better than the proposed Republican budget that would have been brought to the floor.

   Our Nation's budget reflects priorities, but the Republican budget only highlights the wrong priorities. The budget the House Republicans wanted to bring to the floor would be even more devastating to students, working families, and seniors than their previous proposals.

   The Republican budget would end the Medicare guarantee for seniors by converting Medicare into a voucher payment that would not keep pace with medical inflation, shifting billions of dollars in medical costs onto our senior citizens.

   The Republican budget would repeal the Affordable Care Act and would jeopardize the health insurance for millions of Americans, even though the budget assumes all of the revenue collected by the Affordable Care Act to pay for the Affordable Care Act, all of those taxes remain in the budget.

   The Republican budget includes a total of $6.5 trillion in spending cuts, largely unspecified. If this level of cuts were ever made, it would devastate our investments and jobs, education, research, and would essentially eliminate any new transportation projects.

   On top of these devastating cuts to vital programs that support and uplift hardworking American families, the Republican budget calls for trillions of dollars in tax cuts that would primarily benefit millionaires and billionaires, and then they claim the tax cuts would be revenue neutral, suggesting that we are to believe that trillions of dollars in new taxes would be imposed to pay for those tax cuts for the wealthy. But despite this, the Republican budget is not a credible plan.

   Are we really going to dismantle Medicare? Are we really going to cut hundreds of billions of dollars out of education and job training and transportation? Are we really going to raise trillions of dollars in new taxes to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy?

   I don't think so. But the House leadership couldn't even secure enough votes for this budget proposal because a faction of their conference wanted even deeper, unrealistic spending cuts. Budgeting is about making tough choices, and the only choice the Republicans seem to have made with the budget proposal is that we can only balance the budget on the backs of students, workers, seniors, the disabled, and vulnerable communities across the Nation while cutting taxes for the wealthy.

   The Congressional Black Caucus knows that is not the right choice. That is why, as we have done for the last 30 years, we have diligently prepared our own budget alternative to the Republican budget, which we would have offered as an amendment to the Republican budget if they had brought up their proposal.

   The CBC budget chooses to invest in programs that we know will grow our economy and ensure that every American family is able to prosper. Our budget proposes a comprehensive jobs program, totaling $500 billion over 3 years that will accelerate our economic recovery and ensure that it reaches virtually every community in America while also investing in what will guarantee America's long-term economic competitiveness.

   This jobs plan includes funding for direct jobs creation programs, school modernization, jobs for teachers and first responders, immediate investments in our Nation's crumbling infrastructure, assistance for neighborhoods and families still reeling from the housing crisis, job training programs, and summer jobs.

   Our budget calls for significant and sustained investments--approximately $300 billion over the next decade--above the President's request for programs that have been instrumental in lifting millions of Americans out of poverty. Some of these proposals include restoration of cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, expanding access to affordable housing, increasing access to quality and affordable education, increasing funding for job training and Trade Adjustment Assistance, adjusting the earned income tax credit and child tax credit to inflation, as well as decreasing the age where you can benefit for the earned income tax credit down to 21 years of age.

   Thanks to the leadership of Congressman Jim Clyburn, our budget also ensures that Federal resources are targeted more efficiently toward eradicating poverty by targeting Federal spending toward persistent areas of poverty through the 10-20-30 formula.

   Our budget also includes more than $340 billion above the President's request for education over the next decade. This additional money will help make college more affordable by increasing the Pell grant, fully funding the President's free community college program, reducing interest rates on student loans, and financing other proposals to ensure that no student graduates from college saddled with unmanageable debt.

   The CBC budget also provides much-needed funding for families of Flint, Michigan, to help address the short-term and long-term cognitive and behavioral development of children exposed to high lead levels. However, the Congressional Black Caucus appreciates, unfortunately, that Flint is not the only community in America impacted by lead exposure. This is why our budget includes funds to help not only Flint, but also other communities across the Nation deal with the effects of lead exposure.

   Unlike the Republican budget, the CBC budget clearly shows how we pay for these additional investments. Our budget sets a new revenue target of $4 trillion over the next 10 years above the current revenue baseline. To demonstrate how this is achievable and realistic, our budget suggests several specific alternatives, totaling $7 trillion, that the House and Senate committees can choose from to reach that target.

   We ask for $4 trillion in new additional and specifically outline at least $7 trillion to choose from. We do this by specifically talking about closing specific corporate loopholes, treating capital gains and dividends as regular income, a reasonable fee for financial transactions, restoring the estate tax to levels paid over a few years ago, specific items where you can choose from and, in fact, if we just cancel the Bush-era tax cuts, we would have almost $4 trillion in new revenue right there.

   At the end of the day, our budget realistically reduces the deficit by approximately $3.2 trillion over the next decade compared to the Congressional Budget Office's March 2016 baseline. The CBC budget chooses investments in America's children and workers, protects our most vulnerable communities, and changes the wrong choices offered by the Republican majority.

   I hope that we will have an opportunity to debate these issues if the House Republicans are ever able to bring their road-to-ruin budget to a full House vote.