Carper: Bush Budget Would Not Seriously Improve Fiscal Health

Fiscal 2007 Budget Masks True Cost of Tax Cuts, Spending Policies

WASHINGTON (Feb. 6, 2006) – Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., today said President Bush’s fiscal 2007 budget proposal fails to do anything serious about debt reduction and improving the nation’s fiscal health. Carper, who was named one of the most fiscally responsible senators by the bipartisan watchdog group Concord Coalition, said the president’s budget simply doesn’t add up. For instance, the budget doesn’t provide realistic assumptions about the long-term cost of our military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also ignores how much it will cost to extend President Bush’s 2001 and 2003 tax cuts as well as pass much-needed relief from the alternative minimum tax for thousands of middle-class families. “Despite the president’s assertions that he’s cutting programs in order to rein in government spending, the reality is that his proposals do little to bring the federal budget back into balance,” said Carper. Our ongoing military operations overseas, as well as additional tax cuts called for by the president, would cost trillions of dollars that simply aren’t accounted for in this budget. Instead of seeing less red ink, we’re still looking at deficits as far as the eye can see. I’d be prepared to support an austere budget proposal if it were a serious plan to restore fiscal sanity to Washington. Unfortunately, this isn’t such a plan.” Carper continued, “We need to get real about our budget situation and we need to get real about balancing the budget. Our economy can’t sustain the amount of debt we keep piling on the backs of our children and grandchildren.” Carper urged President Bush to reach out to Democrats and Republicans in Congress to adopt a serious balanced budget plan like the one that passed in 1997 under President Clinton. “In his State of the Union address, the president called for increasing civility and bipartisanship in Washington. The president should build on that pledge by working with Congress to develop a plan like we passed almost 10 years ago that brought us real deficit reduction and even budget surpluses,” Carper said. “Balancing the budget won’t be easy. It will require real leadership — from the White House and Congress — to decide the best spending and tax policies necessary to put us on the right track again.” As for specific programs and increases in the budget, Carper was critical of the president’s call to cut funding for cancer research by $40 million and for eliminating the Community Services Block grant program, which helps fight poverty among low-income families, children and seniors. In addition, Carper said the president’s budget for Amtrak – about $900 million – was not realistic and would not be enough to keep the trains running and in good condition. “While I’m glad the president has apparently abandoned last year’s plan to completely bankrupt Amtrak, his budget this year is not enough to allow Amtrak to maintain its current system or make necessary capital improvements – which are essential to bringing the Northeast Corridor up to a good state of repair,” Carper said. Meanwhile, Carper praised the president’s calls to increase by $180 million funds for community health centers, which provide affordable care for people regardless of their health status or whether they have insurance. Carper also praised the president for calling for a $45 million increase to encourage the adoption of new health information technology, like electronic health records. “Investing in community health centers and the widespread use of electronic health records will improve patient care and reduce our healthcare costs. Both are winning investments in the health care arena,” said Carper. Carper also praised the president’s budget for including $50 million for a new clean-diesel program that Carper helped usher through Congress last year. The money would help companies retrofit old, high-polluting diesel engines with newer, cleaner-burning ones. In addition, Carper lauded the president’s call to increase by almost $90 million research into solar energy and bio-fuels. “Solar and bio-fuels represent real ways to cut our dependence on foreign oil and clean up the environment,” said Carper. “Both programs could help advance Delaware’s emerging biodiesel and solar energy markets.”