September 06,2001

Statement at Budget Committee Hearing on Surplus Outlook

Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley
Senate Budget Committee Hearing
Thursday, Sept. 6, 2001

Mr. Chairman, I was reviewing the transcript of the press conference you held last week with
Congressman Spratt in which you criticized the President and the Republicans for supporting a
budget that “raids” Social Security and Medicare.

During that press conference you stated, “If our budget plan had been adopted, we would be
in far better shape ...” In fact, you went so far as to say, “...we had a budget that would have avoided
these problems.”

I decided to take another look at the Democratic Alternative Budget, and you won’t believe
what I discovered. Mr. Chairman, your budget would have “raided” the Social Security and
Medicare trust funds by $237 billion. I point out this fact – not to criticize your budget – but to
remind the Chairman that the current economic slowdown would have affected his budget as well.

I know how tempting it is to use colorful language when engaged in political debate. But,
I would suggest the current debate over who is “raiding” the trust funds is misleading and

It’s misleading because the public thinks we’re talking about “stealing” money from Social
Security and Medicare, when in fact we are talking about how much of that money should be used
for debt reduction.

It’s counterproductive because debt reduction won’t save Social Security and Medicare. It
won’t even come close.

As CBO Director Crippen stated before this Committee on Tuesday, “One has to think about
policies that grow the economy. And not just in the confines of a given amount of money that might
be attributed to a trust fund, because ... ultimately the trust fund is the economy and the of the
economy. And it’s the totality of the federal budget that may affect that, not just the dollars that are
involved in a trust fund.”

I believe it’s time to stop the finger pointing and the acrimony. We need to sit down and work
together on a bipartisan solution to the long-term fiscal problems facing our country. I hope we are
able to do that sooner, rather than later.