Washington, DC—Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on Republicans’ extreme budget proposal. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Budgets and votes have something very important in common: at their heart, both require and reflect tough choices.
“Tomorrow we hope the Senate will vote on the Republican response to the President’s budget, and also vote on the Democratic response. We’ve all done the math and we all know how these votes will turn out: neither proposal will pass, which means neither will reach the President’s desk as written. We’ll go back to square one and back to the negotiating table.
“But tomorrow’s votes are still significant. Just as our budget – that is, how we invest taxpayer money and invest our resources – reflects our values, so will these votes. They will show us which Senators are serious about fortifying our long-term future, and which are more concerned with scoring short-term political points. These votes will show us who wants an easy applause line and who wants to strengthen our nation’s bottom line.
“And as the two parties’ vastly different proposals make clear, there is a fine line between a responsible budget and a reckless one.
“The Republican plan we’ll vote on tomorrow is the same plan the Tea Party already pushed through the House. Now it’s trying to push it through the Senate. But that plan will cost 700,000 Americans – including 6,000 Nevadans – their jobs, and I simply won’t support it.
“Tea Party Republicans are hoping America will see their budget’s price tag and swoon over its cuts. They’re hoping the country doesn’t look under the hood and see what’s wrong. That’s because they know that when we do, we’ll see their shiny new budget is a lemon. It has a badly broken engine.
“To pull ourselves out of this ditch, we need an engine that powers growth, innovation and competitiveness. We need one that powers recovery. The last thing we can afford is a broken engine that will drive us right back into recession. You can’t fix a broken economy with a broken engine.
“But that’s exactly what the Republican House is trying to sell us. The Tea Party plan will make Nevada’s students and workers less competitive, and will make Nevada’s families and communities less safe.
“It hurts education, which threatens our future. Let me give you three examples, starting where many of our children start: in early education.
“Head Start is the successful early-education program for the poorest of the poor. It’s been proven that Head Start students are much more likely than their peers to graduate from high school. But under the Republican plan, 200,000 Head Start students – including hundreds in Nevada – would be kicked out of school. That’s a careless short-term cut with devastating long-term consequences.
“Second, what about students who are already out of high school, and who go to college thanks to Pell Grants? If the Republican plan were to pass, those Nevada undergraduates who rely on Pell Grants would see their tuition assistance get cut by more than $600. That means one of two things: these students’ tuition bills will go up, or they’ll be forced to drop out. We can’t afford either.
“And third, what about those who are already in the workforce, or looking to join the job market? This Tea Party proposal would cost Nevada $30 million in job-training investments. That would hurt about 8,000 potential Nevada workers. These cuts won’t do anything to help unemployment go down or help Nevada’s economy get back on its feet.
“We all know we have to make some sacrifices. But these Republican education cuts I’ve just mentioned are counterproductive. If we slash budgets in the name of a stronger future, but cut the most important way to strengthen our future, what have we really accomplished?
“It’s not just education. Let me share just a few more of the many dangerous consequences the Republicans’ reckless budget would have for my state:
· It would pull the plug on renewable-energy jobs in Nevada, including 600 new jobs at the state’s largest solar plant.
· It would fire another 600 Nevadans who work at community health centers in rural and low-income areas – which means fewer Nevadans would have jobs, and the neediest among us would have fewer places to turn when they need help getting healthy.
· It would cut more than a million-and-a-half dollars from local law-enforcement programs that help Nevada prevent crime, fight domestic violence, and keep our neighborhoods safe from gangs.
· And the plan would cut homeland-security investments by nearly a million dollars, which puts every Nevadan – and everyone who visits Nevada – at risk.
“These cuts threaten the health of our economy, our communities and our citizens.
“Democrats know we cannot make our economy work again for the middle class unless we invest the taxpayer’s money as responsibly, efficiently and transparently as possible.
“Yes, it’s easy to demonize any investments we make by calling it ‘government spending.’ It’s always been a political shortcut to demand that we slash zeroes off the end of the national budget. But before we arbitrarily go on a reckless cutting spree, let’s think about what these investments do, whom they help and how much they mean to our future.
“That’s what Democrats have thought about as we drafted our plan. We’ve made responsible cuts to the tune of $51 billion below President Obama’s budget.
“We’ve made tough choices. But where the Republican plan cuts indiscriminately, we’ve cut carefully. Where the Republican plan is based in ideology, ours is based in reality. That’s because we know the whole point is to cut in a way that strengthens our economy – not in a way that weakens it.
“Our cuts eliminate redundancies, end unnecessary bureaucratic programs and stop funding for earmarks.
“Our plan recognizes that our job isn’t to cut a billion here and a billion there just to say we did. It recognizes, as Democrats do, that we’re not in a competition to determine who can cut the most, without regard for the consequences. Rather, we need to cooperate to figure out where we can cut the smartest.
“The budget is complex. But our choice is simple: If we want to create jobs, the Senate simply cannot pass the plan the Tea Party has already pushed through the House. If we want to responsibly make the cuts we all agree we have to make, the Senate should pass Democrats’ proposal to bring down the deficit and keep our economy moving in the right direction.
“And if we want to realistically get something done before it’s too late, the House and Senate – Democrats and Republicans – should return to the negotiating table, where we know a good compromise on common ground await us. The country is waiting, too, and time is not on our side.”