WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement this afternoon on the passage of the FY 2008 budget, which passed 52-40 on a bipartisan basis:
I am proud to support this budget resolution because it calls for a fundamental change in the direction of fiscal policy. That change is more than incremental. It’s fundamental. It would restore fiscal discipline. And it would put the middle class first.
Back in the 1990s, Democrats made tough decisions that turned large deficits into record budget surpluses. Yet when President Bush came to office, the GOP threw fiscal discipline out the window. Instead of record surpluses, they ran record budget deficits. And in three of the last five years, they operated without any budget resolution at all.
Last year, Democrats promised that if given a chance to govern, we would take our nation in a new direction. This budget provides the latest evidence that we’re delivering.
Simply approving a budget – any budget – would be an improvement over last year. But this also is an excellent budget that reflects the values of the American people. It marks a return to fiscal discipline, and a renewed commitment to serving not just the privileged few, but all Americans – especially the hard working middle class of this country.
For the first time in many years, this conference agreement will return the budget to balance. In fact, by 2012, it calls for running a surplus of more than $40 billion. And that’s without raising a penny of taxes.
The conference agreement also restores strong pay-as-you-go rules, to require new mandatory spending or tax cuts to be offset, or get 60 votes. These rules were a major reason why we restored fiscal discipline in the 1990s, and their reinstatement represents a major step toward a return to fiscal responsibility.
Some Republicans are trying to claim, disingenuously, that pay-as-you-go rules somehow require tax increases. But that claim is simply false. In fact, rather than raising taxes, this budget calls for middle class tax cuts. The agreement would allow us to extend marriage penalty relief, the child tax credit and the 10 percent bracket. It also supports reform of the estate tax to protect small businesses and family farms, and other tax cuts as well.
The inclusion of these tax cuts in the budget is largely due to the leadership of the distinguished chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator Baucus. I want to commend him publicly for making middle class tax cuts such a priority. And I also want to thank our conferees for working so hard to make sure that the Baucus amendment was retained in conference. As a result of their efforts, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind about this Congress’s commitment to middle class tax cuts.
Beyond the tax cuts, the budget reflects a fundamental change in the values that guide federal policy. The budget rejects the misplaced priorities of the Bush Administration, which wants to hand out tax breaks worth $150,000 a year to those making more than a million dollars, while making deep cuts in education and Social Security benefits.
Our priorities are focused on the needs of the overwhelming majority of Americans. The budget will provide health care for children. It will make college more affordable. It will improve health care for our veterans. And it will provide for a strong national defense. All, again, without raising a single penny of new taxes.
I want to thank Senator Conrad for his outstanding work, and urge my colleagues to support this budget. Let’s restore fiscal discipline. Let’s put the middle class first. And let’s take our nation in a new and better direction.