Our National Deficit
Our country is facing very real financial challenges. The national deficit stands at over $18 trillion dollars. This high level of debt was created for several reasons, including the sharp drop in revenue over the past decade due to tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003, our recent economic downturn, the increased expenditures on security and defense in the aftermath of 9/11, and the growing number of Americans who are retiring and accessing services that protect seniors, such as Social Security and Medicare. With commonsense budgeting, shared responsibility, and a willingness to compromise, I am confident that our nation can find a way to return to a balanced budget.
As part of the original deal to raise the debt ceiling during the summer of 2011, Congress agreed to make $2.1 trillion in cuts over the next decade. Over $900 billion of these cuts were agreed to in the debt-ceiling bill but the remaining $1.2 trillion in cuts were still on the table. The bill required that if a deal could not be reached by March 1, 2013 then an automatic cut – or “sequestration” – of $110 billion would be split between national security and domestic programs per year through 2022.
Programs like Social Security, Medicaid, veterans’ benefits, and pay for service members are exempt from sequestration cuts. However, the rest of the federal budget, including the remainder of the defense budget, education, and transportation, are experiencing sharp cuts and will continue to until Congress acts to reverse these cuts and create a plan to address our national debt.
Sequestration was suggested as a tool to force lawmakers to negotiate and find a compromise on debt reduction that both parties could support. It was not meant to be an effective or appropriate way to manage government expenditures. That is why I do not support sequestration. It is far more effective to cut out unnecessary waste and eliminate redundant programs than take a hatchet and cut hundreds of billions of dollars to essential services.
Unfortunately, until both chambers of Congress are able to find a compromise, sequestration will continue to have a devastating effect on our district, our state, and the country. In June of this year, Republicans in Congress attempted to side step defense spending cuts through budgetary tricks to negate the harmful effects of sequestration cuts. I do not support this approach. Congress needs to address current sequestration spending levels as a whole, rather than on an agency by agency basis.
Every year it seems that the U.S. tax code becomes longer and more complicated. I am a supporter of comprehensive tax reform and believe that reform should aim to simplify the tax code, promote savings, and give equal treatment to wages at the individual level. As a former small business manager, I believe businesses should also see benefits in tax reform solutions.
When comprehensive tax reform proposals are brought to the table, we must work to ensure that the result does not contain the same or worse flaws as the existing system or place new burdens on America's working families or businesses.
Small Business Incentives
Small businesses are the driving engine of economic growth and job creation in our nation. The Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that there are over 27.9 million small businesses in the United States, accounting for over half of all U.S. sales. It is absolutely critical that we continue to encourage and assist small businesses through access to easy credit, tax incentives, training programs, procurement, and more. I have supported initiatives like these and will continue to do so to ensure that small businesses have the tools and resources they need to develop and grow.
More on Budget/Taxes
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Gene Green voted against the GOP’s “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011,” H.R. 3630, which was ultimately passed in the House by a measure of 234-193 on December 13, 2011.
Along with much of the nation, I was disappointed to see that the congressional supercommittee's deliberations did not result in a deficit reduction plan. As a result, automatic cuts will be implemented across all federal government agencies, with 50 percent from defense spending and 50 percent from domestic programs.
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Gene Green released the following statement on the Balanced Budget Amendment being voted on later today (H.J.Res. 2), which offers little to help the American people and will inevitably cause drastic cuts to Social Security and other essential programs:
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Gene Green led a letter to President Obama in support of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project as a key project of national interest in creating domestic jobs, raising revenue, and securing America’s energy independence. Twenty-one other Democrats also signed on to the letter requesting that the President grant a Presidential Permit to move forward with construction.
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Green spoke out today on the floor of the House of Representatives to implore his colleagues to act quickly on the American Jobs Act to grow our economy and restore jobs:
“Members, the jobs are the issue and the American Jobs Act is the solution and I hope that this House will consider it on the floor immediately.
Washington, D.C. - In response to the stalemate on reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration, which has hurt thousands of government employees and construction workers who have been caught in the middle of the struggle, Congressman Green released the following statement:
Washington, D.C. – After a long and arduous wait for appropriate legislation addressing the federal debt ceiling and budget, Congressman Green released the following statement regarding his vote today on passage of Senate bill 365, the “Budget Control Act of 2011.”
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Green released the following statement regarding the pending debt deal:
“I'm glad an agreement was reached to avoid defaulting on our national debt. Like all legislation that comes to the House, I still need to see the actual language before casting my vote to make sure the specifics are what's good for my constituents and the nation.”
Washington, D.C. – Today Rep. Green released a statement on negotiations between the White House and Congressional leadership’s attempts to forge a compromise on balancing the federal budget and increasing the national debt limit:
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI15) and Congressman Gene Green (D-TX29) introduced H.R. 2482, the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act. Importantly, this bill will establish the framework for the deployment of a nationwide, interoperable, wireless broadband network for public safety. It will also allocate the D-Block to public safety outright and free of charge.