March 25,2015

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Hatch: Senate Republican Budget Puts Fiscal House in Order without Raising Taxes

In a speech on the Senate floor, Utah Senator Says, “The most striking thing about this budget is that it balances in the 10-year window, eventually reaching a $3 billion surplus. This shouldn’t be all that surprising, Mr. President, but given our nation’s recent budgetary history, to some, it is.”

WASHINGTON – In a speech today, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) applauded the Senate Republican budget and detailed ways in which it will reduce deficit spending and balance the budget – two crucial steps in putting the nation’s fiscal matters back on a sound path for economic growth.

The Senate Republican Budget would achieve $4.4 trillion more in deficit reduction than President Obama’s most recent budget proposal.  This is a statement about fiscal policy, Mr. President, with a recognition that now is the time to get our nation’s fiscal house in order,” said Hatch.

The complete speech, as prepared for delivery, is below:

            Mr. President, I want to take a few minutes to talk about the current debate over the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget. 

            First and foremost, I want to thank the Chairman of the Budget Committee for all of his hard work in putting this product together.  He’s done great work, producing a budget that I believe most Senators can support and finding a way to navigate some pretty treacherous minefields along the way.

            Let’s look at just some of what Senator Enzi’s budget will accomplish.

            The most striking thing about this budget is that it balances in the 10-year window, eventually reaching a $3 billion surplus.  This shouldn’t be all that surprising, Mr. President, but given our nation’s recent budgetary history, to some, it is. 

            President Obama likes to brag about all the deficit reduction that’s taken place under his administration.  Yet, the President has yet to send a balanced budget to Congress.  And, more often than not, his claims of deficit reduction are measured against an inflated baseline and routinely ignore the fact that almost all of the reduction can be attributed to increased revenues extracted from hard-working American taxpayers, with precious little coming in the way of spending cuts. 

            The Senate Republican Budget, prepared by the Chairman of the Budget Committee, would achieve $4.4 trillion more in deficit reduction than President Obama’s most recent budget proposal.  This is a statement about fiscal policy, Mr. President, with a recognition that now is the time to get our nation’s fiscal house in order. 

            The budget accomplishes its objectives in a number of ways, most notably by providing a path toward reining in our unsustainable entitlement programs.  Let’s keep in mind that, when we’re talking about our entitlements – Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security in particular – we’re talking about tens of trillions in unfunded liabilities over the long-term.  These ever-growing programs have us on path toward a fiscal crisis that threatens to swallow up our government and take our economy down with it.

            The Senate Republican Budget would allow us to begin to tackle each of these programs’ shortfalls, offsetting much of the deficits and giving policymakers in Congress and the administration more room to work toward lasting solutions to these problems.  With each of these three major programs, the budget would help stave off fiscal calamity and give us a real opportunity for long-term reforms. 

            Entitlement reform is one of the great causes of our time, Mr. President.  If we’re serious about bringing down deficits and debt and ensuring the solvency of our safety net programs, we cannot continue to kick the proverbial can down the road.  I’ve been disappointed with each of President Obama’s budgets, none of which would make a dent in our entitlement problems.  This budget before us this week would enable us to begin the process of finding long-term fixes to these programs to ensure Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security still exist for our children and grandchildren. 

            In addition to putting our government on a more fiscally sustainable path, this budget would support strong economic growth and job creation.  Most notably, it contains a reserve fund designed specifically for this purpose, which includes, among other things, lowering the cost of investment, reducing the costs to businesses and individuals from the Internal Revenue Code, creating a competitive financial sector, and improving congressional budgetary score-keeping. 

            And, of course, the budget gives a path forward on repealing the so-called Affordable Care Act, which continues to be an albatross on our economy and on the well-being of hardworking taxpayers. 

            The budget specifically includes a repeal of Obamacare’s tax on medical devices, something I’ve been pushing for since the law was first enacted.  You’ll recall, Mr.. President, that an overwhelming majority of Senators voted to repeal this tax the last time we debated a budget in this chamber.  So, I shouldn’t be the only one who’s pleased to see this particular provision included in the budget.  

            The budget also includes provisions specifically to repeal the Individual and Employer Mandates, causes that I’ve also championed here in the Senate. 

            Like I said, Mr. President, Senator Enzi deserves a lot of credit for the work he’s done thus far on the budget.  I am proud to offer my support.

            I’m aware that, given the partisan climate that we’re working in, this budget has some detractors on the other side of the aisle.  As I’ve listened to their arguments against the budget over the past few days, one thing has become pretty clear: My Democratic friends haven’t come up with any new arguments in a long time. 

            Rather than constructive proposals to help address our nation’s fiscal difficulties, my friends on the other side of the aisle are content to simply continue pretending that raising taxes is fix-all elixir for all of our budgetary problems.  Indeed, they’ve continued with the tired, debunked talking points arguing that every problem will be solved if Republicans will simply allow for modest tax hikes on the so-called rich. 

            Yet, even though our debt as a share of our economy is at levels not seen since the years surrounding World War II, it is most often the case that when my friends call for more taxes, often under the guise of closing unspecified “loopholes,” they want to immediately spend it, ignoring the pile of debt that the current administration has accumulated. 

            Mr. President, I’d wager that few reasonable people, if put on the spot, would seriously argue that the American people are undertaxed.  Yet, if you hear the arguments coming from the other side, that appears to be their position.

            So, we’ve heard our colleagues lament the lack of tax hikes in Chairman Enzi’s budget.  And, we’ve already had some votes on amendments to raise taxes.

            What we haven’t heard, however, is a plan that would line up all of my colleague’s spending priorities – which are vast and numerous – with enough tax hikes to cover the cost.  Until my friends on the other side of the aisle either produce such a plan or acknowledge that there aren’t enough palatable tax hikes out there to pay for all the spending they support, no one should take their arguments against this budget seriously. 

            Take a look at this chart. By my staff’s reckoning, if you look at all the tax hikes my friends on the other side of an aisle put to a vote in the last Congress – including the so-called Buffett Rule, taxes on corporate     jets, oil and gas, and others – they are on the record for supporting about $69 billion in specific tax hikes that have not yet been enacted into law.  

            Yet, the first Democratic amendment to this budget purported to raise taxes by $478 billion.  That’s $409 billion more than what my friends on the other side have specified in the recent past. 

            What does that mean? 

            The Sanders Amendment, which we voted on yesterday and almost all Democrats supported, essentially proposed to raise taxes by over $400 billion with unspecified tax policy.  Perhaps my Democratic friends would care to tell the American people how they propose to raise that $400 billion in additional revenue, where the tax hikes will come and who will get hit. 

            I won’t be holding my breath waiting for an answer. 

            Like I said, Mr. President, there are definitely people who want to criticize this budget.  But, when it comes to taxes and revenues, the critics just don’t have a leg to stand on.   

            Now, I’d like to talk for just a moment about an amendment to the budget that I plan to offer this week. 

            My amendment addresses the need for comprehensive tax reform.  The budget already includes a deficit-neutral reserve fund for tax reform and administration.  My amendment would add more detail to this fund to more fully describe what our tax reform efforts should look like.  

            Specifically, it would make clear that tax reform should be comprehensive and address individual, business, and international provisions of the tax code.  It would also state that our reform efforts should be aimed at creating a tax code that is more efficient, pro-growth, fair, and simple.  It would put in place other principles for reform as well, namely: permanence, competitiveness, and promoting savings and investment.  And, it would set forth goals to reduce income tax rates while remaining revenue neutral.

            As most of my colleagues know, Mr. President, I have been advocating for tax reform for some time now.  This amendment would set this effort off on the right path.  

            I’ll have other priorities to discuss when it comes to this budget.  I look forward to working with my colleagues to get them adopted.

            Mr. President, the Senate is doing good work with this budget.  It is, thankfully, working to fulfill its responsibilities. 

            Once again, I want to thank our distinguished Chairman of the Budget Committee for his efforts on the budget.  I urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting this product.