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Chairman Smith Opening Statement – Markup of Budget Views & Estimates

March 6, 2024 — Markup    — Opening Statements   

“Today, taxpayers face high prices sparked by reckless government spending and $34 trillion of debt and counting. This Committee will continue our record of fighting waste, fraud, and abuse to save taxpayer money.”

As prepared for delivery.

“Our final order of business today is consideration of the Ways and Means Committee Budget Views and Estimates for Fiscal Year 2025. 

“Today, taxpayers face high prices sparked by reckless government spending and $34 trillion of debt and counting. This Committee will continue our record of fighting waste, fraud, and abuse to save taxpayer money. 

“Last year, our hearings exposed how $100 to $135 billion in pandemic unemployment benefits was stolen by fraudsters here in America and around the world. This Committee acted, and the House later followed, passing legislation to recover those stolen benefits and provide long-needed protections to prevent fraud of this scale from ever happening again.

“Part of our commitment to helping America’s seniors and workers today is to protect and strengthen Medicare and Social Security. In just the last five years, Social Security has improperly paid $21 billion in benefits, damaging the system’s finances. After months of urging from members on this Committee and a hearing shining a spotlight on this mismanagement of hard-earned tax dollars, the Social Security Administration will finally start implementing common-sense reforms required to eliminate improper payments. 

“This Committee also has a responsibility to ensure our nation’s tax laws are used to promote America’s interests. Some estimates show that the tax breaks in the Inflation Reduction Act now cost as much as three times the original projection. We will continue our aggressive oversight of our tax code to ensure this flood of new spending is not used to weaken America’s economy.

“In creating new tax policy, this Committee has focused on giving tax relief to working families and small businesses.

“Earlier this year, with overwhelming, bipartisan margins, this Committee and the whole House passed the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act. This tax package not only provides working parents with more help to take care of their families, but it also ends a COVID-era program rife with fraud. The Employee Retention Tax Credit costs more than six times its original costs and the IRS has listed the program on its “Dirty Dozen” list of the worst scams in the country. By shutting off the pipeline of fraudulent applications, we will save taxpayers over $70 billion and speed up processing of legitimate claims from small businesses.

“And finally, last year, we secured the most meaningful pro-work reform to TANF in a generation in the Fiscal Responsibility Act. These reforms not only help lift more families out of poverty and grow our economy but were also a part of our reforms to rein in spending.  

“We have more work to find ways to better save taxpayer money and put our nation’s finances back on a fiscally responsible path. We have several programs that have not been reauthorized in several years, and more must be done to reform the programs under this committee’s jurisdiction to root out waste, fraud, and abuse, and help beneficiaries.

“Finding ways to curb wasteful spending goes hand in hand with growing our economy to lower the deficit. For every one point we raise GDP, the historical range of estimates from the Congressional Budget Office shows we can lower the deficit up to $300 billion each year. The Ways and Means Committee will examine all our levers, including tax, trade, health care, oversight, to find ways to help the American people and build a more prosperous nation. 

“I look forward to working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fight for America’s working families, small businesses, and farmers.”