Economy & Budget

The House cannot pass a bill that raises taxes

At a press conference previewing today’s meeting at the White House regarding the president’s request to raise the debt limit, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) delivered the following remarks:

I appreciate what the president said today about the need for us to come together and get this done. Our disagreements are not personal. They never have been. The gulf between the two parties right now is about policy. It’s not about process, and it’s not about personalities.

The president and I agree that the current levels of spending, including entitlement spending, are unsustainable. The president and I do not agree on his view that government needs more revenues through higher taxes on job creators. The president and I also disagree on the extent of the entitlement problem, and what is necessary in order to solve it. 

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Now is the time to put aside politics and create jobs our people so desperately need

America faces a job crisis unlike any that we have seen since the Great Depression. Our country has the same number of private sector jobs we had in 2001 – but the number of people needing work has grown by 14 percent since then. Although some projects in renewable energy and infrastructure have shown promise for America’s recovery, we all know that the pain, stress and anxiety felt by struggling families is deep and profound and cannot continue. 

What needs to be done? Both political parties should stop hurling accusations at each other and instead acknowledge facts and look for solutions flowing from those facts. The largest corporations in America have enough cash to hire 4 million people at 50,000 per year. If our large banks were lending at the pace of the last 30 years, they would have injected 1.3 trillion dollars of private investment into our economy. Why haven't they done so?

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It's all about the pressure to spend

In the coming weeks the federal debt limit is scheduled to be increased for the seventh time in the past three years. A familiar high stakes game of budget “chicken” begins anew. So why is it so difficult to balance the federal budget at a time when both parties are allegedly desperate to do so?

My service on the House Budget Committee and as a House majority whip lead to one simple conclusion: it’s all about a constant pressure to spend.

Fact: Most human beings want approval; most elected officials crave it. Result: It is near impossible to control the primal urge to spend taxpayer dollars or, more precisely, pile up gargantuan debt on the federal credit card.

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The Balanced Budget Amendment: three lessons the ERA could teach the GOP

Senate Republicans have offered a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Writing in The Wall Street Journal recently, Republican Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) argued that a constitutional requirement to balance the budget would provide a long-term solution to the nation's debt.

If they are serious about getting it passed, here are some important guidelines they need to follow: (1) Frame it in terms of fundamental American values (2) Get lots of Democrats to sign on (3) Don't let the tea party take hold of the issue.

The ill-fated Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) provides a useful counterpoint. During the 1970s, the ERA fell just three states short of becoming ratified.

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Why we need to reform Social Security

I’m holding a series of hearings on Social Security as part of my effort to lead a fact-based conversation about how we can make Social Security safe, secure and sustainable.

Here are the facts. First, according to the experts, in 2036 Social Security revenues will only cover 77 percent of promised benefits. Congress and the president must come together to find common-sense solutions to make Social Security safe, secure and sustainable - and the sooner we do so, the sooner we can protect those who are most vulnerable.

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Where is support for the small farmer when it's needed?

Remember the American family farm, in whose name major business interests are continually advocating? Remember how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and business groups like the Cattlemen’s Association oppose the Estate Tax in the name of the family farm, even as they greatly exaggerate the potential impact of the tax on family farm interests?

To judge from events unfolding at a hearing in the House of Representatives this week, big business’ interest in the family farm is entirely opportunistic.

Currently at issue is implementation of a provision of the 2008 Farm Bill that would codify the rights of chicken, pork and beef producers who raise animals under contract to Tyson Foods and other major meatpackers. These rights were recognized as important in a Federal law passed in 1921, but never elaborated until now. 

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Congress needs to stay in town to get the job done

During his press conference last Wednesday, in a moment of unvarnished exasperation, President Obama criticized Congress for what he regarded as its lackadaisical and dilatory work habits. Invoking the looming debt ceiling crisis, he said, “We’ve got to get this done. And if by the end of this week, we have not seen substantial progress, then I think members of Congress need to understand we are going to have to start to cancel things and stay here until we get it done.”
 
Whether he knew it or not, the president was channeling the views of the American people. In a survey recently conducted by No Labels, a national citizens’ movement of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, 83 percent of the respondents thought that Congress should stay in session if it fails to address the fiscal crisis before its scheduled summer breaks.   

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Time to cut farm subsidies now

The federal budgetary squeeze on agricultural subsidies offers the President and Congress a beckoning opportunity to seize and shape a grand global bargain on international trade. We could trade new cuts in farm subsidies for new markets to create new jobs in other sectors of trade.

Doing so could end the decade-long deadlock in the Doha Development Round of global trade negotiations. Those negotiations linger on life support, with hundreds of billions of dollars in increased trade annually -- and untold new jobs -- at risk if they fail.

The stubborn refusal of the United States to make additional cuts in our agricultural subsidies is by far the biggest obstacle to a global trade breakthrough. Our trading partners are willing to give us more of what we want than they have offered so far -- but only if we give them more of what they want. What they want most are cuts in the U.S. farm subsidies that keep their highly competitive farm products out of the U.S. market and distort markets worldwide.

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An invitation for President Obama

Sen. McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday regarding the debt ceiling increase and renewed his invitation to President Obama to meet with Senate Republicans for deficit-reduction discussions.

Washington is engaged in a debate right now over the kind of country we want to be. The specific issue is this: at some point over the next several weeks, the federal government will no longer be able to borrow the money it needs to cover the cost of promises it’s already made. So the president wants Congress to raise the statutory debt limit set by Congress. He wants us to raise the limit on the national credit card. 

Now, what Republicans have said is that the only way we’ll do it is if Democrats agree to change their ways — so we don’t end up with the kind of situation here that we’re witnessing in Greece. And make no mistake: that’s exactly where we’re headed if we don’t do something significant now.
  
Democrats have refused. Instead, they’re making what can only be described as a bizarre request under the circumstances. In the middle of what we all agree is a debt crisis, they want to spend even more. They want a second stimulus — more deficit spending.  In the middle of a jobs crisis, they want to raise taxes that we know will kill even more jobs — when even the president has said that raising taxes would leave job creators with less ability to hire.

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