February 28,2001

Grassley Praises Fresh Approach of Bush Budget Blueprint

WASHINGTON - President Bush's budget blueprint represents a fresh and welcome approach to handling the taxpayers' money, Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Committee on Finance, said today. Grassley's comments came after hearing testimony from Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, the first administration official to testify on Capitol Hill on the President's budget.

"This budget is a breath of fresh air," Grassley said. "It's a welcome departure from the tax-and-spend approach of the last eight years. It brings new hope to taxpayers that the government will spend their money more sparingly, more wisely and more accountably."

Grassley said the Bush budget plan strikes the right balance between funding priorities such as education, Medicare and Social Security and cutting income taxes. Grassley said he agreed with O'Neill's assessment that the budget is "fiscally prudent."

Grassley said O'Neill's analysis of available funds clearly shows that the President's plan is affordable. O'Neill said the federal budget surplus is projected to be $5.6 trillion over the next 10 years, a fairly conservative estimate. He explained that with the $5.6 trillion surplus, taking away $2.6 trillion in Social Security surplus and $1.6 trillion for tax relief, $1.4 trillion remains for priorities including Medicare, debt service and unexpected needs.

Grassley said he was pleased to hear O'Neill's pledge that government officials must "be better stewards of the taxpayers' dollars" by cutting overlapping and unsuccessful government programs. Grassley said that message is critical to taxpayers.

"Like other Americans, the Iowans I've talked to are giving and fair-minded," Grassley said. "They're over-taxed, but they don't want tax cuts in a vacuum. Our mission in government, then, is to deliver the most bang for the taxpayer's buck. President Bush understands this. The President has a good eye for efficiency. He'll consolidate duplicative programs and make them work better."

Grassley said he will work to deliver as many of the President's priorities as possible in a bipartisan way through the Committee on Finance, with tax relief a key priority.

"The cornerstone of President Bush's successful campaign was tax relief," Grassley said. "Many members of Congress promised to deliver income tax relief to the people who sent them to Washington. So both Democrats and Republicans have hired on to lighten the record income tax burden. We have a job to do, and we owe the people a seriousness and a focus on the task at hand."