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Camp Opening Statement: Markup of Budget Reconciliation Legislative Recommendations

April 18, 2012

Good morning.  Today, we will separately consider three measures to meet our reconciliation instructions in the House-passed budget, which asks committees such as this to find a smarter way to reduce our debt and deficits, which are costing us jobs.  

The gentleman from California, Mr. Becerra, will remember that during the Bowles-Simpson commission, we heard non-partisan testimony that debts as large as ours slow economic growth by about one percent, which in America translates into about one million jobs.  I think we can all agree the American worker – and more importantly the unemployed American – cannot afford these levels of debt and deficits.

Congress has begun to tackle this problem, and while more work lies ahead, last year the Budget Control Act put in place spending caps that cut over $2 trillion from the budget over ten years.  Part of those savings, however, result from a sequester – which we knew then and we know now was meant as a motivating factor for Congress to find a smarter way to reduce spending than the sequester’s arbitrary cuts, which even Defense Secretary Panetta has said would be like shooting ourselves in the foot.

As such, the items before us today include several provisions that have previously received bipartisan support and will fulfill the Ways and Means Committee’s reconciliation instruction by saving at least $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2013, $23 billion over the next five years, and $53 billion over the next ten years.

The first recommendation would require exchange subsidy overpayments in the Democrats’ health care law to be repaid in full.  In certain circumstances under current law, recipients are permitted to keep taxpayer-funded health insurance Exchange subsidies to which they were not entitled.  The bill before us today protects taxpayers by requiring those receiving higher subsidies than allowed under law to return any overpayments.  This policy will reduce the deficit by $43.9 billion over the next ten years.  A Democrat-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate first used this offset in 2010 to pay for a temporary Medicare “doc fix.”  This Congress also endorsed this policy as part of the 1099 repeal legislation that became law early last year.  As Secretary Sebelius has previously said, requiring the return of Exchange subsidy overpayments “mak[es] it fairer for recipients and all tax payers.”

Second, we will consider a recommendation to prevent abuse in the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit, officially called the Additional Child Tax Credit or ACTC, by applying the same safeguards that apply to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to the ACTC.  As we all know, the EITC already requires individuals to include their Social Security Number on their tax return in order to claim the credit, and we will require the same with regard to ACTC.  This provision is based on legislation previously introduced by Congressman Sam Johnson, which was included in the House-passed version of the payroll tax cut extension bill last December.  In the Senate, Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill has explicitly called on the IRS to end ACTC payments to individuals without Social Security Numbers.  The legislation will help deter abuse and fraud that costs taxpayers billions of dollars by preventing those without Social Security Numbers, including illegal immigrants who are currently ineligible to work in the United States, from receiving checks from the IRS in the form of the refundable child tax credit.  This provision will save taxpayers $7.6 billion over the next ten years.

Finally, we will consider legislation that repeals the duplicative Social Services Block Grant, which states use for 29 different social services, including “other.”  Begun in 1956 as a way to match State spending on services to help families leave welfare, the Social Services Block Grant is now a 100 percent Federal funding stream that can be used to provide almost any service to anyone regardless of their income.  The program requires no State contributions, includes no eligibility criteria, and has no real accountability for results – States simply report what they plan to spend the money on, for whom, and what the recipient’s age is.  Meanwhile there are literally dozens of larger and more accountable programs that provide the same sorts of services funded by the SSBG.  Repealing the Social Services Block Grant will reduce duplication, and save taxpayers nearly $1.4 billion next year alone.  The House-passed budget reflects the tough choices necessary to get this country back on course.  Republicans have made a commitment to reform Washington to strengthen our economy, create jobs and get our fiscal house in order.  Congress owes it to the American people to cut out of control Washington spending, balance the budget, and, most importantly, help employers create jobs.

I look forward to discussing the recommendations before us today, and hopefully moving these spending cuts forward in a bipartisan manner.  I will now yield to Ranking Member Levin for the purposes of an opening statement.