March 25, 2015

Republican budget will hurt families, economy | by Sen. Tom Udall [Video]

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[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]U.S. SENATOR TOM UDALL delivered a speech on the Senate floor today urging Congress to reject the unprecedented cuts in services proposed in the Republican budget – ranging from Medicare and child care to education and law enforcement. Watch the video or read his remarks below:[/box]

Mr. President, last week, the Senate Budget Committee gave a green light to the Republican budget. A caution light was more in order. 
 
It calls for $4.7 trillion dollars in non-defense spending cuts over the next 10 years and no increases in revenue. Where would those cuts come from? They would be piled on the backs of the middle class, the elderly, and children. 
 
They would cut the Earned Income Tax Credit, slash Medicare and Medicaid, child care, Head Start, education, public safety, law enforcement. 
 
And – just for good measure – the Republican budget rolls back reforms on Wall Street. On and on – all this and more – to pay for lower taxes for millionaires and billionaires. 
 
When I first came to the Senate, our economy was in free fall. We were losing 20,000 jobs a day. Every day, thousands of jobs – gone. Our financial system was crashing. Deficits were at historic highs. 
 
That was six years ago. It has been a long road back. We asked the wealthy to pay their fair share. We passed long-needed reforms to Wall Street. We’ve seen 12 million more private sector jobs, the deficit cut in half, Wall Street at historic highs. Profits are up, unemployment and deficits are down. 
 
That is the story – but it isn’t over. We’re not near done yet. Not everyone has found solid ground. 
 
My state still faces great challenges. Many New Mexicans are still struggling, still pulling out of the worst recession in over 75 years. 
 
How do we go forward? How do we build on the progress we have made? That’s the question the voters elected us to solve. The short answer is we have to work together. We have to get past the shutdowns and showdowns. Politics is the art of standing your ground – but also finding common ground. 
 
That is why the Republican budget is so troubling. It doesn’t start a conversation. It doesn’t reach across the aisle. 
 
This budget is bad for working families, bad for the middle class, bad for our economy. It makes a U-turn – right back to failed policies of the past. 
 
This budget says no to the middle class, no to the most vulnerable, no to critical investments – but yes to lower taxes for hedge funds. It is Robin Hood in reverse. And it will hurt so many people who have suffered so much for so long. 
 
This is the wrong way to go at the worst possible time. Because make no mistake about it – this budget is one big YES to those at the top, and one big NO to just about everybody else. 
 
In my state, one in three children are in poverty. For Native American children, it’s even higher—it’s 44 percent. One in five children goes to bed hungry. Their parents can’t find adequate child care. They can’t get quality medical care when they need it. They lack access to safe housing and clean water. 
 
This isn’t just the case in New Mexico. We see it across our nation – children and families falling behind. It has to change. The future – not just for our children, but for our economy – depends on changing it. 
 
We need to be doing more. But the Republican budget would do less. It would cut programs for low-income children, seniors and families by up to $660 billion over 10 years – including SNAP and child nutrition programs. 
 
Healthy kids are an investment in our future economy. We need renewed commitment – not draconian cuts – to the programs that help children reach their full potential. That means infant and toddler care, preschool, and home-visiting programs. We know they can help. 
 
A recent White House report tells the story. These programs make a difference, get results and  save money – more than $8 for every $1 invested. 
 
That’s why I introduced the Saving Our Next Generation (SONG) Act. We should fully pay for what works. That’s why I’m a cosponsor of the PRE-K Act to expand high-quality, early learning programs for children from birth to age 5. 
 
Children should be our priority. They should not take a back seat to billionaires. Neither should the elderly – who depend on Medicare, not a voucher program. 
 
The Republican budget cuts $2.5 trillion from health care for low and moderate income people, repealing the Affordable Care Act, block granting Medicaid. Seniors would pay more for prescription drugs and more for preventive services. Crucial support for nursing care and home health would be slashed.
 
We have a lot to do to get America’s economy back on track. The Republican budget – at every turn – fails to do it. A budget isn’t just numbers, it is about choices – and priorities. 
 
That means investing in infrastructure. We have to upgrade our roads and manage our water resources. Federal dollars are almost half of New Mexico’s total transportation budget and 70 percent of funding for our highways and bridges. 
 
It means making sure we have an educated workforce, not cutting Pell grants by 30 percent. 
 
It means full funding for the PILT program to help communities pay for law enforcement, schools, and other services folks depend on. 
 
It means making sure our national labs and our military bases have the resources they need. 
 
All of this makes a difference for the people of my state, makes a difference for hardworking families, makes a difference for the future of our country. 
 
These should be our priorities – including doing more for small businesses. They are the engine of our economy. They create most new jobs. They need a fair tax policy because they pay their fair share and don’t have an army of lawyers working to find tax loopholes. 
 
We cannot ask Main Street to keep sacrificing while we fail to close a single tax loophole on Wall Street. 
 
We need a tax system that supports the middle class – not corporations sending jobs overseas. Our economy is recovering, but the benefit needs to go to all Americans, not just those at the top.  
 
These are the choices we should be making. These are the choices the Republican budget fails to make. 
 
We need to invest in the programs that help all Americans get ahead and strengthen our economy so that every hardworking American has the opportunity to build a better future.  
 
I hope we can work together and find common ground with a budget that makes sense, with a fair tax policy, with smart investments. We need to look to the future and move forward. 
 
Now is not the time to return to the failed policies of the past. 

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