Rangel Opening Remarks at Budget Hearing with Secretary Paulson
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel issued the following opening remarks during today’s full Committee hearing on the Administration’s budget with Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr.:
“I am pleased to report to you, Mr. Secretary, that you have the confidence of the Democratic Leadership as well as the chairmen of the committees that deal with issues under Treasury’s jurisdiction. We really appreciate your sincere desire to have this 110th Congress be one of legislative accomplishments. It is important for Democrats and Republicans to fulfill our obligation to the American people and avoid the partisan fights we have developed a reputation for so that we can move forward and hopefully resolve some of the critical problems facing our great nation.
“In order to set the record straight, the President must be a party to this cooperation. He can create a climate of bipartisanship and encourage us to continue on this line. It is not for legislators to tell the President what to put in his budget. He is the President and he has that responsibility, but there are certain politics involved here that have clearly been rejected by the American people in recent campaigns. The answers we seek will not simply be what Democrats want, or what Republicans want, but what we can do together.
“Following my own advice, I’m not even going to talk about private accounts for Social Security. That’s something you talk about when you’re fighting, not when you’re trying to work out something. However, when I look at some of the cuts proposed in this budget - $637 billion for Social Security privatization, $66 billion out of Medicare, further restrictions to food stamps, cuts to Medicaid and children’s programs, and the request that we make permanent his tax cuts - it sounds to me like this is pre-campaign talk from the President and I just want someone in the White House to acknowledge that Democrats won and that we want to work with Republicans.
“To truly cooperate, the President must understand that he has missed critical opportunities to show leadership. The State of the Union was a missed opportunity, his economic speech in New York would have been a great opportunity, and the Democratic retreat – it was an honor to have him as a guest, but he could have broken new ground – was a missed opportunity. I know the Administration can reach out to Congress and make us feel like we have a job to do without sacrificing any principles. It’s going to be difficult and it’s going to be politically painful, but it will be less painful if the President is on board.
“Listen, this train hasn’t even left the station, so it’s not a problem right now – we have plenty of time to attempt to do the things that we have discussed - but I would be less than candid if I didn’t say that we need some help and we need to have it expressed in public meetings as well as privately. We all have to be prepared to give. At the end, if we succeed, we all win and the country wins.”