WASHINGTON – Congressman Jerry Lewis, the ranking Republican member of the House Appropriations Committee, presented the following opening statement for the Appropriations Committee markup of the 302b allocations proposed for the Fiscal Year 2008 appropriations bills:
Mr. Chairman, I should say at the outset that I strongly considered offering an amendment, such as that done in the past, which would offer a different set of allocations based on the roughly $933 billion total spending suggested in the President’s budget submission.
This spending level already reflected a very generous increase of $60 billion over the 2007 enacted spending level. Obviously, such an increase was not enough to satiate the spending lust of our new majority, and they determined to pile another $20 billion on top of the $60 billion.
At the end of the day, I determined that offering such an amendment was a pointless exercise and perhaps even a waste of our Members’ valuable time. We have far more constructive Appropriations-related work to do today and the rest of this month. I would, however, like to take a couple of minutes to paint the broad picture of spending that we are about to embark on.
Our friends like to suggest that additional dollars are constantly needed for our domestic programs because they have been “starved” over the past several years. The truth is, domestic discretionary spending has increased 40%---or 21% in real dollars---since 2001.
Members and others can of course advocate for more money for this program or that program which might be favorites, but to do so using a generic statement that domestic discretionary programs have been starved is utter nonsense.
With regard to the majority’s plan to spend $80 billion over the 2007 enacted budget levels, I would submit to you that this represents exactly the kind of unfettered spending that so closely identifies the differences of our philosophies. It’s pre-1995 all over again.
“If you see a problem, throw money at it.” Never mind trying to fix the problems. Never mind making tough spending choices. Just take more money out of the register and throw it at the problem.
Does it matter to you that if this spending philosophy continues and is adopted into the baseline, we will see an increase of $250 billion in new spending over the next ten years? It should matter to you!
And who will pay for these massive increases in spending and how will it be paid?
The majority’s agenda requires tax increases of more than $720 billion over the next five years and $2.7 trillion over the next ten years. They have chosen to pay for this by increasing the tax burden on every American household by more than $2,000 per year.
Much has been said over which tax increases we will face to pay for this massive expansion in government spending. This year alone over 19 million more households will be captured by the Alternative Minimum Tax, and yet the majority now is counting on the billions in additional taxes to pay for its spending increases. The AMT is not for the wealthiest households any longer. These funds come from the pockets of middle income families.
Yet which taxes are increased is not the issue. That the majority imposes new or increased direct taxes that families pay every April 15th is not the issue. That the majority would impose indirect taxes that we will all have to pay for every day through higher prices, lower savings and investment income and fewer services is not the issue.
What truly matters is that it is middle income households that always pay the bill for expanded government. That will not change here.
What is at issue is that over $720 billion in new taxes are required and that the taxes will go from a historical 18.3 % of GDP to a whopping 19.7 % of GDP. And what is also at issue is who, in reality is going to pay. In 2004, 50% of the total Federal tax burden was paid for by the 65 million households that earned between $24,000 and $65,000 per year.
And the vast majority of those taxes are being paid by individuals between the ages of 45 and 54 with incomes between $55,000 and $77,000 a year. This group pays more than 20% of their income just to meet the federal tax burden. This is the group of Americans which every year pay over $500 billion dollars a year in taxes to support our parks, conduct our research, and provide support and services for the young and the elderly. These are the households and individuals that will pay for the expanded government that the majority is demanding and these are middle class groups that our lip service suggests we want to protect.
Ladies and gentlemen, by moving forward with the allocations submitted for our approval today, we are virtually guaranteeing a number of vetoes from the White House. We are virtually guaranteeing that most if not all of these bills will end up in a huge omnibus bill sometime late this fall.
We are virtually inviting the Executive Branch to be equal partners in the minutia of our budget deliberations, something that, I am proud to say, has not happened since President Clinton left office.
Ladies and gentlemen, adoption of the 302(b) allocations as presented to us today will spell failure to do our job in a manner that has long been part of the Committee’s 142 year, bi-partisan heritage. While I appreciate the effort put forth by staff in developing this plan, I for one cannot support it.