Hatch on Democrats’ Refusal to Cut Run-Away Spending
Utah Senator Says, “Republicans want to hit the brakes; Democrats want to pull a Thelma and Louise with our economy.”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, today spoke on the Senate floor about the majority’s refusal to consider legislation to dramatically cut spending that is threatening economic growth.
“Right now government spending is at 25 percent of Gross Domestic Product. And if we do nothing, that number is just going to grow, pushing past 25 and cruising toward 28 percent of GDP,” said Hatch. “Republicans and Democrats have very different ideas about how to address this spike in spending. Either we can step off the pedal, hit the brakes, and bring spending back in line with historical levels — levels that respect our Constitution of limited government and respect taxpaying citizens. Or we can keep the car on cruise control and drive the car off the cliff. Republicans want to hit the brakes. Democrats want to pull a Thelma and Louise with our economy. I, for one, am not going to sit back and let them do this.”
Below are Hatch’s full remarks:
In a few hours, this body will vote. This is a solemn responsibility, one not to be taken lightly.
At Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln reminded Americans that those who died on that battlefield fought for government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We are only here because the people, our constituents, sent us here.
And every time we vote, we represent them. We represent their aspirations. We represent the dreams of growing families and entrepreneurs. We represent the interests of taxpayers.
Of course, not all votes are created equal. Some are more important than others. And in my view, the votes that we are taking today are transcendent. They are quite literally about the future of this country.
Are we going to be a country with a constitutionally limited government? Are we going to be a country that limits the burden of taxation on individuals and families and businesses? Or are we going to become Europe?
Are we going to move toward a full-blown cradle –to-grave nanny government with the majority of Americans on the public dole and a small group of individuals bankrolling an ever expanding leviathan state?
In short, are we going to remain America – a beacon of freedom to the world. Or do we aspire to become a second European Union with high taxes, high spending, and measly economic growth?
Again, I remind you that we represent the aspirations of our constituents.
I represent the people of Utah. And I can tell you that they do not wake up in the morning and say —You know what . . . . American would be much better if we were more like France.
This is no exaggeration. Right now government spending is at 25 percent of Gross Domestic Product. And if we do nothing, that number is just going to grow, pushing past 25 and cruising toward 28 percent of GDP.
Republicans and Democrats have very different ideas about how to address this spike in spending. Either we can step off the pedal, hit the brakes, and bring spending back in line with historical levels — levels that respect our Constitution of limited government and respect taxpaying citizens. Or we can keep the car on cruise control and drive the car off the cliff.
Republicans want to hit the brakes. Democrats want to pull a Thelma and Louise with our economy. I, for one, am not going to sit back and let them do this.
Let’s be clear about what the Democrats and Republicans are proposing here.
H.R. 1, the bill that passed the House, appropriates one trillion, twenty-six billion dollars in non-emergency discretionary spending.
The alternative offered up by my Democratic colleagues would appropriate one trillion, seventy-nine billion in total non-emergency discretionary spending.
H.R. 1, the bill pushed by the new Republican majority in the House — a majority that most closely represents the views of millions of Americans who are genuinely scared about our nation’s fiscal trajectory — would reduce spending by $57 billion over the current continuing resolution.
The Democratic alternative would reduce spending by just $4.7 billion.
You will hear Democrats complain about the draconian cuts in the House-passed H.R. 1. This is nonsense.
The fact is, when you look at federal spending as a whole — which has exploded under Democrats’ control of Congress and President Obama’s acquiescence in their big spending ways — H.R. 1 provides modest cuts. The people of Utah, and the people of this country, understand this.
So now that Republicans are winning the game on spending cuts, Democrats are seeking to move the goal posts. It is now being suggested that we can bridge the gap between these two bills by going after entitlements and tax expenditures.
Don’t get me wrong. We need to address both. But I can tell the members on the other side now, that we are not going to let you shift the debate.
This is a debate about discretionary spending. This is a debate about low-hanging fruit.
Last week the Government Accounting Office issued a report detailing possibly hundreds of billions of dollars in government waste and bloat. There is plenty of fat to be cut in the discretionary budget, and doing so would give our constituents and members of Congress the courage to go after bigger fish.
And yet Democrats can’t find it in themselves to cut an additional $50 billion from a bill that spends over $1 trillion. Some are now proposing that we get into tax expenditures. Tax expenditures are a debate for another time.
Non-defense discretionary spending has grown by 24 percent over the last couple of years. We can cut that back significantly. We need to do so, and Americans understand that going back to 2008 spending levels is not the end of the world.
I would also like to correct the record with respect to H.R. 1 and Medicare Advantage.
Yesterday, Secretary Sebelius sent a letter to my colleague, the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator Baucus, suggesting that H.R. 1 would have a detrimental impact on Medicare Advantage.
This assertion is Orwellian. The Secretary knows full well that Obamacare cuts more than $200 billion from an MA program that currently serves nearly 12 million seniors. According to the Administration’s own Chief Actuary, these devastating cuts will reduce enrollment in this popular program by 50 percent. Furthermore, the CBO has also found that these cuts would reduce important benefits by 50 percent for seniors enrolled in the program.
H.R. 1 is intended to halt the harmful cuts to seniors in the MA program. Suggesting otherwise, as the Secretary did, is both inaccurate, and risks confusing millions of seniors.
H.R. 1 is a good bill. It is solid and responsible. And I will be supporting it. It is a good starting point. The fact is, we are going to need many more cuts in discretionary spending.
The American people — the people who sent us here — have not signed onto the Democrats’ project of Europeanizing the United States economy.
Citizens in every state want to roll back spending, reduce the tax burden on families and businesses, and restore America’s promise of opportunity and economic growth.
My colleagues on the other side of the aisle need to get with the program. We will be cutting spending. And we need to cut a lot of it. It may not all happen in the next two years.
The American people might need to speak again and send people to Washington in 2012 who will accurately represent their interests.
This is a big vote today. And when we look back, I think Americans will say it was just the beginning.
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