Friday, February 06, 2004

Statement from Daschle on Budget


The document the White House has submitted this week cannot be taken seriously as a budget. As vast and extensive as this budget seems, the Administration has omitted essential facts and data that will have enormous consequences for our fiscal future and our economy. There is not a dime in this budget to cover the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite the fact that the CBO estimates the cost of these efforts in the coming years will exceed $200 billion. In addition, by stopping short and projecting five years ahead, the budget hides the full cost of the President's tax breaks. When you include the five years after the budget projections stop, the President's tax breaks will add trillions more to the national debt.

We can't predict every challenge our nation will face in the coming years, but you don't need a crystal ball to know that we have to commit resources to support our troops' efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. You don't need a crystal ball to know that when you ask to make tax breaks permanent, the costs will be with us for more than five years. And yet, the Administration has omitted trillions in spending and revenue shortfalls from their budget plan.

When we look closely at this budget, we learn something valuable about the Administration's choices and priorities. The Administration insists that even in the face of massive deficits, a jobs crisis, and our ongoing activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, we must continue their failed policies of tax cuts first, last and always. In addition to record deficits and debt, this means 2.4 million more children left behind because of underfunded education priorities; 210,000 more veterans without the health care they need; 1,200 fewer cops on our streets; and thousands of fire fighters and emergency medical personnel let go from local departments. These are choices the White House has made.

The President has chosen to provide huge windfalls for millionaires and giant corporations, and huge cutbacks for the programs that matter most to American families. If this budget passes, Americans face a future with poorer schools, higher crime, and less secure retirements. We can and must do better.