The federal budget process was the official focus of an October 21 Senate Budget Committee hearing, but debate on federal budget priorities and spending caps were center stage. While Senate Budget Chair Mike Enzi (R-WY) called for a restoration of regular order to the nation’s budget process, Committee Ranking Member Bernie Sanders (I-VT) asked his Republican colleagues not to “balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor – the most vulnerable people in our society – and ask nothing from the wealthy and large profitable corporations.”
“A well-functioning budget process strengthens democracy by giving citizens a better understanding of government's role, which provides them with the knowledge that their tax dollars are being spent wisely,” Senator Enzi said. “When the process breaks down, so do the people's faith in government and their elected officials.”
"At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, let’s work together on a budget that is fair,” said Senator Sanders said. “Let’s end sequestration.”
Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director of Coalition on Human Needs, testified that “as a first principle, [the federal government] ought to protect low income people in budget and deficit reduction plans. . . . But Congress has not adhered to this first principle in its budget proposals. The FY16 Congressional Budget Resolution instead targets two-thirds of its cuts over the next decade at low income programs.” She went on to say that “if Congress allows the sequester cuts to take effect again in FY 2016, it will be a needless backwards step, further slowing the nation’s modest progress in reducing poverty. If sequestration cuts return this year, spending on domestic discretionary programs will decline to their lowest level as a share of GDP over the past 50 years. Domestic programs will shrink 17% from FY10 to FY16, taking inflation into account.”
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former Congressional Budget Office Director, testified that fundamental reforms are needed to major mandatory spending programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act. He also thinks the federal budget would “benefit from the improved growth derived from fundamental tax reform.” Mr. Holtz-Eakin supports the current budget spending caps, saying their formation represents a commitment to move the nation’s finances in a better direction.
View the hearing webcast and all testimony at: http://www.budget.senate.gov/republican/public/index.cfm/hearing-schedule?ID=b66c18b1-6ada-45b4-92a1-eca6ee6a809e