U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) made the following statement today concerning the passage of the FY06 Budget Resolution:
"I am disappointed that, once again, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a budget that is fiscally irresponsible, that underfunds investment to key priorities like education, health care, law enforcement and Veteran's benefits. This year, the federal government has a projected deficit of $427 billion - the largest in our Nation's history according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). But this year's numbers are simply the latest in a horrible trend. Two years ago, we had a deficit of $375 billion. Last year we had a deficit of $412 billion. Each of those deficits set the record for highest deficits of that time. More troubling is that, unless we change our policies, our existing debt of almost $8 trillion will continue to explode.
The budget passed yesterday contains no plan to bring the budget back to balance and even fails to show any deficit figures at all after 2010. I voted for a Democratic alternative budget that increases funding for education and our veterans. At the same time, the alternative budget that I supported reaches balance in 2012 and included pay-as-you-go rules that ensures the government pays for any new spending, and results in $182 billion less public debt than the Republican budget at the end of the first five years.
The Republican majority chose to reject this budget alternative and adopted a resolution that impairs our economic growth and hurts some of our most vulnerable citizens, our children and our disabled veterans.
The Republican budget resolution is bad for public education. We must invest in our future and K-12 and higher education are crucial to ensuring that our nation remains competitive and vibrant. Yet, the Republican resolution cuts funding for education programs by $2.6 billion for 2006 and $38 billion over the next five years. These cuts include all $1.3 billion for vocational education and other elementary, secondary and college aid programs. The Democratic alternative budget actually provided $4.5 billion more for 2006 appropriations for education, training, and social services. This funding would not only have preserved current education programs, but it also would have supported increases in high priority programs such as access to post-secondary education.
I was also particularly troubled by the manner in which the Republican budget treats veterans. With our continued presence in military operations around the world, including on-going commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, we will have more wounded soldiers coming home who will need access to quality health care. Instead of ensuring that all of our veterans will have access to this critical resource, the Republican budget resolution cuts veterans' health care. Over the next five years, this critical area is funded at $14 billion below current levels. Additionally, the Republican resolution requires the Veterans' Affairs Committee to make $798 million in cuts to other veteran's benefits over the next five years. This cut can only be achieved by imposing new fees for veterans' health care, or by reducing veterans' benefits such as disability pay, pension benefits or education benefits. This is wrong. The Democratic alternative budget that I voted for contains $1.6 billion more than the Republican budget for veterans' health care programs for 2006 and $17 billion more over the next five years, while still continuing to reduce the deficit.
The lack of fiscal responsibility and cuts to necessary funding for areas such as veterans are just some of the reasons why I voted against the Republican budget resolution. It is time for Members of Congress to get serious about fiscal responsibility and begin to take steps to get our country's budget on the right track. If we continue to spend without restraint, whether it is for tax cuts or program spending, we are placing the economic burden on future generations instead of dealing with the problem now. We must have an open and honest debate with Americans about what we can truly afford. We must continue to fight for budgets that are fiscally responsible and preserve the best of American values and ideals.”