CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS' HOUR OF POWER

December 2, 2013
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman from New York and the gentleman from Nevada and the chair from Ohio for their strong work and, particularly, for talking about some of the things that the Congressional Black Caucus has accomplished over the last year.

   I want to take an opportunity to highlight the CBC's work on advocating for a responsible budget, on offering responsible solutions to address the budget deficit, to cancel the sequester, and to grow the economy.

   Last March, we offered our budget for fiscal year 2014 as an alternative to the budget that was adopted by the House. The CBC budget makes tough choices but not at the expense of our most vulnerable communities. The CBC budget offers a concrete plan that both cancels the economically disastrous sequester and then pays for that cancelation. Our budget is able to do so while also protecting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP nutrition benefits, and other vital safety net programs that protect millions of Americans from poverty.

   The CBC budget also reduces the Nation's budget deficit by approximately $2.8 trillion over the next decade compared to the February baseline calculated by the Congressional Budget Office.

   Other ideas have been presented in the past to either cancel the sequester or reduce the deficit, but they almost always include significant cuts to Social Security and Medicare. These ideas have included changing the way the Social Security benefits are calculated--the so-called chained CPI, which reduces the cost of living benefits--or raising the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 67.

   The CBC budget is able to pay for the cancelation of the sequester and reduce the budget deficit without these harmful cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

   Our budget is in stark contrast to the Republican budget that passed the House earlier this year. That budget claimed--claimed--to reduce the budget deficit by $4.6 trillion over the next decade by making draconian spending cuts in non-defense discretionary spending and unspecified savings in mandatory spending. That is the category that is mostly comprised of Social Security and Medicare. They are going to get savings, better known as ``cuts.''

   That budget also included a $5.7 trillion tax cut that was paid for with an asterisk--meaning that the Ways and Means Committee and the Appropriations Committee would have to figure out how to fill the $5.7 trillion hole. Now, arithmetic requires you to recognize that you can only fill that hole by either raising taxes or in additional cuts. We know that the Republicans are opposed to tax increases, and the only real big ticket item left that can come anywhere close to filling that hole would be Social Security and Medicare--the only thing left on the table to pay for that.

   The CBC budget does not include an asterisk or other types of budget gimmicks. Our budget outlines a concrete plan that makes tough choices and presents credible options that can be used to achieve our budget reduction targets.

   The CBC budget calls for revenue enhancements totaling $2.7 trillion over the next decade. Our budget outlines how the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee can reach this number by highlighting several revenue options totaling $4.2 trillion that could be used to reach the $2.7 trillion revenue target.

   These revenue options include: $1.1 trillion that can be obtained by limiting deductibility of corporate interest payments; $1 trillion by closing special tax breaks and corporate loopholes; over $800 billion by taxing capital gains and dividends as ordinary income; almost half a trillion dollars by having a 5.4 percent surcharge on that portion of your income over $1 million; over $300 billion by enacting a Wall Street Trading and Speculators tax of 0.25 percent; $200 billion by ending the Bush-era tax cuts or that portion of your income over $250,000; over $100 billion by returning to the estate tax exemption that was in existence in 2009; and over $100 billion by reducing the tax gap through better enforcement of the IRS Tax Code.

   Those are specifics. They may be unpopular, but at least they are specific, in stark contrast to go find $5.7 trillion unspecified that the Republican budget included.

   The revenue enhancements provided in the CBC budget would allow Congress to totally cancel the sequester and then pass a jobs package of at least $500 billion. At $50,000 each, that is over 10 million jobs that could be created in 1 year with a jobs bill of that magnitude--almost enough to hire everybody drawing unemployment today and to provide an additional $300 billion in long-term investments in our economy through education, job training, health care, and advanced science and research.

   As I said earlier, the reforms contained in the CBC budget would reduce the deficit $2.8 trillion over the next decade compared to CBO's baseline. That would put our Nation on a strong sustainable path, all without jeopardizing programs that support our seniors and programs that educate the next generation of leaders and business, science, and technology.

   As we move forward to 2014 and the next budget deadline, the Congressional Black Caucus will continue to advocate these priorities contained in our budget.

   It is imperative that Congress pass a budget that expands economic opportunity, invests in the American people, and reduces our deficit. The CBC budget presents a concrete plan--backed by actual numbers, not by asterisks--that shows how we can reduce our deficit while not being required to make further cuts in vital programs that support our Nation's safety net, especially Social Security and Medicare.

   Most importantly, the CBC budget presents a clear path towards both economic prosperity and fiscal responsibility for our Nation.

   I want to thank the CBC budget for the opportunity to work on this budget because it is a responsible budget, does the right thing, and it has specifics that you can actually look at, in stark contrast to the asterisk gimmicks and other assumptions that cannot be fulfilled without going into Social Security and Medicare that the Republican budget has.