May 18, 2006
Today, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) voted against the Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year (FY) 2007, House Concurrent Resolution 376. Smith made the following statement concerning his vote.
“Each and every year that they have controlled Congress, the Republican majority has passed a budget that brings massive deficits and huge amounts of long-term debt. In January of 2001, a 10-year surplus of $5.6 trillion was projected. Five years later, in 2006, we have a projected deficit of $423 billion and an overall national debt of $8.3 trillion that continues to rise. Passage of today’s bill increases our debt limit by another $653 billion. This is a failure of leadership by the Republican majority and it is fiscally unsustainable.
To have a fiscally responsible budget it must focus on three main areas of reform: tax reform, health spending and entitlement reform.
In the area of taxes, the Republican majority budget reduces revenues by $228 billion over the next five years, with the majority of those benefits going to those Americans who make in excess of $200,000 per year. It is clear that we can not continue to spend at the current rate while reducing tax revenues through cuts which do not benefit the majority of Americans. Congress must re-look at our overall tax system, including tax cuts, in an effort to simplify our tax code and produce more revenue.
Secondly, healthcare spending is out of control. We must look at the root causes of this dramatic increase in healthcare spending – such as rising prescription drug costs, inefficiencies in the healthcare system, and over util ization. Overall healthcare spending has risen faster than the rate of inflation with no end in sight and as a result, healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid are increasing spending faster than almost any other part of the federal budget. By getting health care inflation under control, we can help balance the federal budget.
Addressing our rising health care costs will help address the third issue in need of reform: entitlement spending. The Republican budget also fails to provide a reform agenda to meet the rising costs of our entitlement programs. Tackling health care inflation is a must to get the budget in order and we must also take a serious look at the costs associated with reforming Social Security.
What the Republican budget does instead is to make severe cuts in a lot of small programs such as Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) grants, Pell Grants and Community Development Block Grants. Cuts to these small programs cannot solely fix our growing national debt; this would only nibble at the edges of the problem while its impact would be drastic to our states and localities.
Finally, the Republican budget fails to reinstate Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) rules. The PAYGO rules that were in place in the 1990s require any new mandatory spending or revenue legislation to be fully offset. PAYGO rules have proven effective in the past in eliminating budget deficits and a fiscally responsible budget must include these rules.
This budget continues the fiscal irresponsibility continually demonstrated by the Republican majority. If we don’t show true leadership in our budgets, we will pass on these enormous debts to future generations of Americans. I voted against this bill because of its fiscal recklessness and its inability to address the needed reforms to get the American budget back on the path of fiscal responsibility.”