February 15, 2011

Crapo: President's Budget Wrong To Ignore Recommendations Of His Own Fiscal Commission

Questions President's Budget Director during Senate Budget Committee hearing today

Washington, D.C. - If today's Senate Budget Committee hearing is any indication, President Obama's Fiscal Year 2012 Budget proposal faces strong, bipartisan criticism for its failure to control deficit spending. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, a member of the committee, told Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Jacob Lew today that cost-cutting measures proposed by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform should have been included in the President's budget proposal. Crapo, who voiced support for the recommendations as a member of the commission, joined other senators in asking why recommendations were not included, noting the budget falls far short of reducing debt and deficits.

"This budget as proposed does not go as far as it claims to," Crapo said, noting the proposal fails to pay down public debt owned by the American taxpayer. "In fact, the part of the debt held by the public increases over the span of this budget from $9 trillion to $19 trillion," he said during the first Senate committee hearing on the budget proposal.

Under questioning by Crapo, Lew admitted that the Administration's budget proposal assumes hundreds of billions of dollars of new tax increases, which, when combined with the President's call for the expiration of many existing tax policies, would result in a total tax increase of $1.6 trillion. Crapo noted the budget uses unproven economic assumptions, which could actually extend deficits even further. "This budget doesn't change the course that we've been on," Crapo said. "In truth, the debt will double under the ten years of the President's budget proposal."

Last year, the President created the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and Crapo served on the panel alongside Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota). In the executive order that set up the panel, the President specifically ordered the Commission to propose recommendations that would balance the budget, excluding interest payments on the debt, by 2015. In addition, the Commission was to propose recommendations that meaningfully improve the long-run fiscal outlook, including changes to address the growth of entitlement spending and the gap between the projected revenues and expenditures of the Federal Government. While some of the proposals were not always popular, Crapo said the blueprint should have been part of the President's proposed budget and still should be taken up in Congress. He is working with a bipartisan group to draft legislative proposals.

Crapo said he hoped the commission's work wouldn't end with its tenure: "We should be engaged on this issue with solid leadership from the White House," he said.

Crapo's comments at today's hearing can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/senatorcrapo