5 Minute Speech on President's FY 2016
I come to the floor today to add my support to the budget that the Administration has just proposed. It recognizes that the middle class is the true engine of economic growth. American workers are capable of creating world-beating value if they are permitted some opportunity, some modest investment, and a fair tax environment that rewards them for their labor. We ‘ve already had a preview of the opposite approach: of letting our citizens fend for themselves in the economic “state of nature” known as austerity. When sequestration took effect in 2013, the CBO found that we lost 750,000 jobs and our gross domestic product was stunted 0.6 percentage points. We don’t need to resort to such ruthless, self-defeating strategies to control federal deficits. The President’s budget presents us a more productive alternative.
The budget is projected to cut our deficit by 1.8 trillion dollars. It will achieve this despite substantial - and vital - expenditures in infrastructure, education, health, and science because it will make our policies more cost-effective and efficient. For instance, the Affordable Care Act has contained the steep growth of private and public healthcare costs while increasing the profitability of insurance companies. All parties involved have mutually benefitted from the expanded health marketplace. Similarly, the President’s budget will secure for the middle class the basic resources it needs to be productive. We all stand to gain from a more educated, more flexible, and more resilient workforce. It is in our common interest as a nation to cultivate our middle class and not impose any artificial constraints on its growth by disproportionately subsidizing a small number of already-prosperous individuals and corporations.
Our skewed tax system, which the President’s budget will begin to repair, has plunged the middle class and working poor into historic depths of self-reinforcing inequality. Two simple acts – (1) restoring the capital gains tax rate to that of the Reagan Administration and (2) making sure that unrealized gains are taxed fairly when inherited – will make the America’s College Promise proposal possible. Nine million students could attain higher education if the top one percent were to pay its fair share with conventional capital gains taxes. We ask the one percent to return from its de facto tax holiday and for it to contribute to the prospects of its fellow Americans again.