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Camp Opening Statement: Hearing on President’s FY 2010 Budget Overview w/ O.M.B. Director Peter Orszag

March 04, 2009


Thank you for yielding, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Director, as I noted yesterday with Secretary Geithner, yourbudget places a new $646 billion energy tax on the American people.  Orat least that is the most your budget admitted to in the plain type.

Upon closer inspection, I found that footnote 3 to table S-2 in thePresident’s budget states that there are assumed revenues beyond the$646 billion.  So much for a return to honest budgeting.

Mr. Director, I agree that honesty is the best policy, and that theAmerican people should know what is included in the federal budget. However, telling only half the story, as you have done, is not the sameas being honest. 

I trust you are aware that when you were heading the CongressionalBudget Office, you scored the Lieberman-Warner bill as raising nearly atrillion dollars, and that legislation had less ambitious emissiontargets and did not auction 100% of allowances as the Presidentproposes to do.

How much revenue beyond the initial $646 billion do you reallyexpect the American public to pay?  How much of a burden will you puton American employers to raise these new monies?  Why is the true costof this tax increase hidden from the public and the media?

Beyond this new, massive tax, I hope we get the chance to talk about the President’s approach to health care reform. 

Per capita health care spending in the U.S. is already twice as highas the spending rates in Canada and two and one half times higher thanthose in the UK.  While health care is expensive, the issue is not thatwe aren’t spending enough today, it is that we spend it inefficiently.

Yet, the President’s budget proposes a $634 billion “Health ReformReserve Fund” to serve as a partial “down payment.”  First andforemost, I worry that you have confused increased spending with realreform that delivers enhanced care.

Second, half of this money will come from a massive tax increase,the rest from drastic changes in Medicare and Medicaid.  But yet again,you have not told the whole story to the American public.  If $634billion is the “down payment” what is the full costs and why is thatnumber not in this budget?

Given that most estimates place the cost of your health reform plansat more than $1 trillion, I assume you have hidden somewhere another$400 billion in tax increases and Medicare cuts you will be sharingwith this committee.

Mr. Director, to honor the passing this week of Paul Harvey, I hopeyou will tell this committee and the American public “the rest of thestory.”

With that, I yield back the balance of my time. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.