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President Obama’s FY2014 Budget Proposal

Statement of Senator Michael B. Enzi

April 11, 2013

Mr. President, I rise today to share a startling fact with the American public. For the first time since the President has been required to submit a budget – since 1922, 91 years ago – the President failed to provide a budget proposal before the Senate passed one! This year the President’s budget proposal was submitted to Congress 65 days late. And even with that extra time to find solutions that would jumpstart the economy, the budget proposed by the President continues the policies that have led to anemic economic growth and stagnant job creation – more taxes, more spending, more government.

The last time we voted on the President’s budget, it received zero votes. Let me repeat that – zero votes. Not even the members of his own party supported his budget. Since the President’s budget is arriving after we’ve already taken up a budget here in the Senate, I doubt that we’ll vote on this proposal. But I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that a vote on this budget might obtain the same result.

We’ve already heard cries from members of his own party that he’s included proposals that they don’t like – for example, a provision called “chained CPI” that changes the inflation measurement for many Federal programs, like Social Security, and for certain provisions of the tax code. The President’s budget estimates that this provision will reduce the deficit by nearly $230 billion over 10 years. And a budget like the President’s that raises taxes by nearly $1 trillion over the next 10 years – and that’s in addition to the $600 billion in tax increases that went into effect earlier this year – certainly will not win over any members on my side of the aisle. While there are some provisions in this budget that I might support, the budget taken as a whole is a far cry from what we need to get the country on the right fiscal path.

The President and his party like to talk about a so-called “balanced approach.” But there is nothing balanced about a budget proposal that raises taxes by nearly $1 trillion and can’t even balance! That’s right – the President’s budget does not balance in any of the next 10 years. What we really need is a budget that gets us to balance and puts us on a path to start paying down our country’s $16 trillion debt. We have got to start paying down the debt!

The President’s budget proposal would increase taxes as a percent of the nation’s total output, or GDP, each year over the next 10 years, resulting in revenues as a percent of GDP at 20 percent in fiscal year 2023. The average rate over the past 40 years has been approximately 18 percent of GDP. The U.S. has balanced the budget 12 times since World War II. The average revenue for those 12 years was 18 percent of GDP. These numbers tell the story - our problem is not that we tax too little but that we spend too much. I’ve introduced a bill called the Penny Plan that cuts spending by one percent for each of the next three years, and balances the budget in 2016. Our nation owes over $16 trillion and no one is talking about reducing it. We’ve got to get to balance – the sooner the better – and start paying down the debt.

I’m very disappointed, but not surprised, that the President yet again has not taken the opportunity to fully address the drivers of our growing deficits and debt – spending programs like Medicare and Social Security. The President won his re-election last year. The time for campaigning is over; it’s time to start governing and make the tough choices to save these programs for current and future beneficiaries.

I said this during the debate on the majority’s budget resolution a few weeks ago, and it’s worth repeating now – we need to grow the economy, not the government. One of the ways we can grow the economy is by reforming our outdated tax code. We’ve got to lower tax rates and broaden the tax base and make the tax code simpler and fairer for all taxpayers. I was happy to see the President’s budget call for revenue-neutral business tax reform. But then I read the fine print and realized the President was calling for lowering the corporate tax rate only and by paying for it by increasing taxes on U.S. multinational companies and oil and gas companies. I agree we need to lower the corporate tax rate. We also need to fix our outdated international tax system so that we don’t hamper our U.S. multinational companies from competing globally. And I’ve got an international tax reform bill that addresses those issues. But in addition to lowering the corporate tax rate, we’ve got to ensure we address the taxes paid by so-called “flow-through” businesses – these are the partnerships, S-corporations, and limited liability companies. Just fixing the corporate side doesn’t help the millions of businesses that are structured as flow-through entities. I appreciate the President wanting to do revenue-neutral corporate tax reform. But that only addresses part of the problem.

I generally don’t like to do things “comprehensively.” We should do legislation in smaller parts so people can understand what’s in them and can vote for and against the things they support and don’t support. But given the interaction between the individual and corporate side of the tax code, we really need to look at them together and make sure changes we make in one area don’t make things worse in another area.

So now we’ve finally seen the President’s budget proposal. And while there are a few good things in it, I’m sorry to tell my constituents back in Wyoming and the American public that the President has yet again failed to seize the opportunity to move the country’s economy forward. It’s more taxes, more spending, more government. That is not the recipe for growing the economy. I hope that over the coming months, the President and his party will work with me and the members on my side of the aisle to fix our tax code, both individual and corporate, and reform our spending on programs like Medicare and Social Security. The American people deserve nothing less.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.