The Smithsonian Institution is truly one of our national treasures. Through its 19 museums and galleries, numerous research facilities and programs and internationally renowned National Zoo, the Smithsonian has left an indelible mark on our nation for generations. It has served as a steward of our national history and, through its unparalleled ability to create and leverage private and public partnerships, done so in a way that has generated significant savings of taxpayer resources.
In 2003, Congress enacted the authorizing legislation to establish the National Museum of African American History and Culture, within the Smithsonian Institution. This facility will serve as a testament to the tremendous contributions made by African Americans and the role that they have played in the history of our nation.
Cutting the health and retirement benefits Americans have earned over a lifetime of hard work is no way to reduce our nation’s budget deficit. We wish to emphasize a point that has been overlooked during this debate on the debt: without programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, millions of middle-class and low-income Americans would be one illness away from bankruptcy or one stock market slide away from poverty.
We lead organizations representing the most diverse cross-sections of America — in age, race, income and disability status — and have watched with growing concern as politicians in Washington consider harmful cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid instead of cutting wasteful spending and closing tax loopholes to lower our budget deficit.
Trying to balance the budget with across-the-board cuts to Social Security and Medicare would undermine the security that is so important to middle class families. And wholesale changes to Medicaid would hit the elderly, children, the poor and individuals with disabilities hardest — exacerbating the already tragic lingering economic impact the recession has had on these communities.
These proposals represent a giant step backward from basic American values of fairness and hard work.
The debate over deficit reduction and the debt ceiling has taken on a theatrical air; the game itself, and its winners and losers, have become more important than the impact of any deal. This is why you rarely heard the word “jobs” during this debate. There is a political reason for the silence: the news is not good for American workers.
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, a deal that reduces the deficit by $2 trillion over the next 10 years could cost the economy more than one million jobs during the next three years. And a recent CBS News poll showed that voters want political leaders to focus on jobs and the economy over long-term budget deficits by a 4-1 margin.
Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act, often referred to as the most far-reaching reform of the financial services industry since the Great Depression. While this legislation has indeed profoundly impacted the financial services industry, its impact on our nation’s corporations and corporate boards has received considerably less attention, though it is equally important.
Over the past year, much has been said about the impact that Dodd-Frank will have on banks and other financial institutions, but the legislation goes far beyond Wall Street, bringing us mandates for say on pay, bounties for whistleblowers, and the likely advent of proxy access.
Americans today are surrounded by a cloud of confusing numbers on the economy and the federal budget. But what do the numbers really mean? What do they describe? How are they related to the debt ceiling crisis? Below are some of the more frequently mentioned figures – from the astronomical to the pedestrian – and a brief explanation of their background and ramifications.
$4.5 trillion: The total value of Treasury bonds held by China, Japan, Brazil, Iran and other nations. As economists Stephen Moore and David Malpass have pointed out, this is money that foreigners are not investing in the next Google, Oracle, Wal Mart or bio-medical company here in the U.S. Instead, this investment is financing Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and other federal government programs.
Lawmakers are in the middle of a fiscal crisis where options for finding new revenues are divisive. Many agree that simplification of the tax code is an important step towards addressing the financial challenges – lowering rates, broadening the base and eliminating various credits and deductions – to increase revenues and support long-term economic growth.
There is another option that can be pursued right away where both Republicans and Democrats agree: making more spectrum available for the booming wireless market to help spur investment and lower the deficit without raising taxes.
As Washington considers solutions to our debt crisis, I believe a fundamental principle -- before we consider cutting vital programs or raising tax rates—is ensuring everyone pays their fair share. I always find it impossible to explain why a pharmacist in Lockhart, Texas, or a small retail store in San Marcos has to pay more in taxes because some multinational can duck and dodge its obligations by moving money to Bermuda or the Cayman Islands.
Closing loopholes that allow billions in tax dollars to slip through the cracks each year would restore much-needed revenue, and would also help our economic growth by leveling the playing field for small business and improving public confidence in our tax system.
Last night the President explained to the nation the crisis that we face right now as he sees it.
His hope was to lift the debate up out of the gritty legislative particulars, and I understand that.
Unfortunately, the situation the President described last night bears very little resemblance to the realities on the ground here in Washington right now.
Good evening. I’m John Boehner. I serve as Speaker of the whole House — of the members of both parties that you elect. These are difficult times in the life of our nation. Millions are looking for work, have been for some time, and the spending binge going on in Washington is a big part of the reason why.
Before I served in Congress, I ran a small business in Ohio. I was amazed at how different Washington DC operated than every business in America. Where most American business make the hard choices to pay their bills and live within their means, in Washington more spending and more debt is business as usual.
I’ve got news for Washington – those days are over.
Good evening. Tonight, I want to talk about the debate we’ve been having in Washington over the national debt – a debate that directly affects the lives of all Americans.
For the last decade, we have spent more money than we take in. In the year 2000, the government had a budget surplus. But instead of using it to pay off our debt, the money was spent on trillions of dollars in new tax cuts, while two wars and an expensive prescription drug program were simply added to our nation’s credit card.
As a result, the deficit was on track to top $1 trillion the year I took office. To make matters worse, the recession meant that there was less money coming in, and it required us to spend even more – on tax cuts for middle-class families; on unemployment insurance; on aid to states so we could prevent more teachers and firefighters and police officers from being laid off. These emergency steps also added to the deficit.