Betty S Sutton

Federal Budget - March 28, 2007

Betty S Sutton
March 28, 2007— U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC
Congressional floor speech
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I yield myself such time as I may consume and ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks. I also ask unanimous consent that all Members be given five legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks on House Resolution 275.

Mr. Speaker. H.Res. 275provides for consideration of H.Con.Res. 99, the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for FY 2008, under a structured rule.

The rule provides for four hours of general debate, three to be controlled by the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on the Budget and one to be controlled by Representative Maloney of New York and Representative Saxton of New Jersey.

The rule also makes in order three substitute amendments by Representative Scott of Virginia, Representative Woolsey and Representative Ryan of Wisconsin.

Mr. Speaker. Budgets…more than anything else this government produces…are a statement of what matters to us and what does not.

They are moral documents.

They tell us to what degree we care to look after the old and protect the young…they indicate our responsibilities to commitments both abroad and here at home…they give life to our greatest dreams as a nation…they are the hope we leave for our children and become the legacy we bestow upon our people.

And they can be examples of great courage…or an absolution of Congress’s responsibility to set priorities consistent with strengthening our people and our communities.

Mr. Speaker, as it concerns the budget…it has been a long six years for this nation.

The budget has been out of balance fiscally and it has been out of balance with the needs of the American people.

Just six years ago, we were looking at a projected $5.6 trillion surplus…that has collapsed into a nine trillion dollar deficit. For every American in this country there is $29,000 worth of debt.

And to add insult to injury…most of the debt we have taken on in recent years will be sent to investors in foreign countries.

It goes far beyond having been drunk at the wheel…our predecessors in the majority not only crashed the car into a ditch they accelerated after landing there, allowing mud to cave in on top of it.

That was the fiscal situation Democrats found when we arrived here just a few short months ago.

Since President Bush took office in 2001, my home state of Ohio alone has lost over 200,000 manufacturing jobs…and 3 million have been lost nationwide.

Job growth overall has slowed to a significantly slower pace in recent years than under the Clinton Administration—at a rate even below the level necessary to keep pace with population growth.

Sadly, our families have even less purchasing power today than they did in January 2001.

And the debt has continued to pile up…with no accountability…no fiscal responsibility…no effort to place priorities in the right places…to curb wasteful spending…to do what needs to be done to make sure that the programs consistent with the values this nation has been built upon…Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, SCHIP and community block grants…continue to be able to survive.

In short …the policies enacted in recent years will have devastating effects on our future competitiveness and standard of living if we continue down this same destructive road.

But today is a new day.

And we have a new path to follow…one that says that it is more important to take care of our wounded veterans than it is to take care of oil companies…one that says that kids cannot grow up to thrive and give back to this great nation if they do not have healthcare when they are young…one that says that the measure of a nation can be taken in things that may seem small…like heating assistance for the elderly and nutrition programs in local schools and special assistance for those with disabilities.

Indeed…it is in the small print of the federal budget that we find our worth as a government.

Which is why I am proud, both as a member of the Budget Committee and as a Member of Congress, to support this Democratic budget.

It is the first time in a long time that this Congress has before it a budget that is fiscally responsible and in line with the needs of the American people.

This budget makes critical investments in education, health care, our veterans, our communities, and our economy, while at the same time adhering to pay-go principles and returning our budget to balance by 2012.

The reckless economic policies of the last six years have been immensely damaging to our economy’s long-term global competitiveness and particularly to our workers.

The Democratic budget will strengthen middle class families by providing funding for job training programs, health care, and education, particularly in math and science.

These are all essential investments in our workforce that will lay a solid foundation for a growing economy and improve our competitiveness. The Democratic budget rejects the President’s draconian cuts to programs that provide health care to the poor, our children, and our seniors.

Nine million of the neediest children in this country, and 242,000 in my State of Ohio, lack health insurance coverage, and the funding levels in the President’s budget put as many as 1 million of these children at risk to fall off the SCHIP program by 2012.

In contrast, the Democratic budget provides for a $50 billion increase to SCHIP…allowing us to reach millions more children than we reach right now, making our children’s healthcare needs a federal government priority.

The Democratic budget also rejects the $300 billion in Medicare and Medicaid cuts proposed by the Administration.

It is simply unconscionable to accept a proposal that would make health care less accessible and affordable to the 1.7 million seniors in Ohio and the 42.4 million seniors nationwide who depend on Medicare as their primary source of health care coverage, as well as the 1.6 million Ohioans, and 42.5 individuals nationwide, who are enrolled in Medicaid.

Access to healthcare should be a right…not a privilege…in this nation and it does not serve any of us to roll back the clock on the healthcare initiatives that have served us so well up until now.

The Democratic budget is also about investing in our communities.

It provides for increased funding for the Community Development Block Grant and the Social Services Block Grant, and it saves Community Services Block Grant, which was zeroed out in the President’s budget.

I have personally spoken with a number of the community officials in my own district that would have been affected by the proposed cuts in block grant programs…and I will tell you that, at the local level, these programs are lifelines for our neighborhoods and towns.

They address needs in affordable housing, education, and nutrition.

They promote financial literacy and assist with child care needs, special services to children with disabilities, adoption, and counseling.

And in our cities, the CDBG helps provide affordable housing and services to our most vulnerable populations in order to revitalize neighborhoods and our local economies; nearly 100,000 in my district alone have benefited from their good work.

In short…we should not be trying to do away with programs that work. The Democratic budget also makes education a priority, from early childhood to lifelong learning.

To that end, our budget provides $3 billion over the current services level for education, training, and social services.

These increases are an investment in our future, and will be vital to our global competitiveness.

We have increased funding for those just beginning their education, like the 38,000 children in the Head Start program in Ohio, and we have also taken steps to make college education more affordable through Pell Grants and a higher education reserve fund.

And we have included funds to train more math and science teachers…a necessary investment in the future competitiveness of our workforce.

Finally, the Democratic budget reflects a major shift in priorities by providing for a $5.4 billion increase in the Veterans Affairs budget, which is an 18.1 percent increase over 2007 levels and the largest increase in history.

Recently, it has become clear that the needs of our brave men and women who have served our country so honorably have not been met.

We have heard heartbreaking stories of wounded veterans who must wait up to six months for disability determinations and about VA facilities that are in disrepair.

The more than 1 million veterans in Ohio, and the more than 24 million nationwide, deserve nothing less than our full support.

And they deserve to know that when they put their lives on the line everyday for the continued safety of our nation…that they can rely on a demonstrated commitment by their government to look after their health and welfare when they return home.

Anything less is simply unacceptable.

A budget reflects the soul of a nation…it can give life to our most honorable pursuits and provide proof of the best of our intentions.

It is the Rosetta stone which those who look upon us from the present…and from the future…can decipher our worth…and our courage.

It is with those thoughts in mind that I am proud to support this budget for consideration by the House.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.

I reserve the balance of my time.

Speech from, August 28, 2007.