Chairman Neal Opening Statement at Hearing on the President’s Proposed Fiscal Year 2022 Budget with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen

Jun 17, 2021
Press Release

(As prepared for delivery)

For the past year and a half, we have focused our energies on responding to the devastation, economic uncertainty, and tragic loss of life brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. But today we are meeting with renewed optimism and an eye toward the future: not just our next year of recovery, but also the next decade ahead.

We are in a position to look to the future largely thanks to President Biden’s leadership in wresting the nation from the depths of the crisis this past winter. The President worked with Congress to pass the American Rescue Plan, which quickly began to deploy vaccines, get workers back into jobs, and support  Americans with an additional round of stimulus checks. Now, the Administration is encouraging us to think longer-term with a budget proposal that lays out the commitments that we must make for our future and our children’s future.  

The administration’s thoughtful approach to economic recovery and renewal should be no surprise given the central role of our guest today, Secretary Janet Yellen. Secretary Yellen is one of the brightest, most accomplished policymakers I have known in my time in government. She is the first person in American history to have led the White House Council of Economic Advisors, the Federal Reserve, and the Treasury Department. She is someone whose advice I have sought out in the past, and whose leadership I am counting on as Congress embarks on this historic round of lawmaking. I can’t think of a more qualified person to be standing before us today.  

Rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure will be a critical element of our plan to build back better. High quality infrastructure—from roads and bridges to water systems and the electrical grid—is the backbone for our world-leading economy. And infrastructure investment isn’t just economic stimulus. It’s also workforce development. And it’s climate change mitigation.

Building on our members’ work with the GREEN Act, the President’s American Jobs Plan includes tax credits for clean energy technologies, for energy-efficient homebuilding, for carbon capture, for zero-emission vehicles, and for many other critical investments. I look forward to discussing the importance of these investments with the Secretary today.

Of course, no matter how sophisticated our public infrastructure, many Americans will still struggle to fully participate in the workforce and in public life if they are struggling to take care of their families at home. That’s why it’s so important that we pair these big infrastructure  investments with the proposals to support our human infrastructure that are contained in the American Families Plan.  These proposals are designed to promote opportunity and inclusion by making significant investments in the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, paid family and medical leave, and child care. These programs will make it easier for millions of Americans to balance work and family.

I’m grateful to Secretary Yellen, the Treasury Department, and the IRS for helping get the last round of stimulus checks out the door so smoothly, and I know we can count on the same level of precision and care as we expand this set of vital programs.

One matter that I know our members will agree on today is that we should empower the IRS to collect whatever taxes are legally owed. Years of evidence has made clear that there’s no better bang for our legislative buck than fully funding the IRS. For every $1 dollar spent on tax administration, we return almost $5 to spend on infrastructure investments and social programs. That’s why the President has proposed to increase the budget of the IRS  to ensure compliance, administer new programs like the Advance Child Tax Credit, and to improve customer service for all taxpayers.

As my comments have indicated, we have  many important policy challenges facing this Congress and this Committee, and it is in collaboration with your agency that we hope to address  them. I’m grateful for your partnership as we work together to build greater economic opportunity for the American people.

Before I conclude, I do want to note that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle will likely present a very different view of reality to you today. They will say that the Biden Administration wants to increase taxes on middle-class Americans, even though that’s simply untrue. The President does not support any new direct taxes on people making less than $400,000, and neither do I.

They’ll say the Biden budget and Democrats’ proposals will kill jobs, when in actuality, investments in infrastructure and the technologies of the future are poised to create millions of good new jobs that pay well.

I imagine we’ll also hear claims that the 2017 Republican tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and big corporations are responsible for the economic recovery we’re seeing right now. On the contrary, the liquidity Democrats provided with direct stimulus payments and emergency unemployment benefits are what prevented a worse recession, lifted the economy, and helped businesses stay afloat by giving American consumers enough money to continue buying goods.

You'll hear arguments that inflation is going to spiral out of control. But economists largely agree that recent price movements are temporary and will likely abate once supply chains catch up to the recent surge in demand. Fear of the inflation boogeyman should not deter the decisive action that the President has rightly called for.

Madam Secretary, you of all people are equipped to set the record straight when these unsubstantiated claims arise. I thank you again for joining us today. 

And with that, I will now recognize Ranking Member Brady for the purpose of an opening statement.