Boyle Opening Statement at Markup of Fiscal Commission Act of 2023

Jan 18, 2024

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Pennsylvania Congressman Brendan F. Boyle, Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, delivered opening remarks at a Budget Committee markup of H.R. 5779, the Fiscal Commission Act of 2023; H.R. 6952, the Fiscal State of the Nation Act; and H.R. 6957, the Debt-to-GDP Transparency and Stabilization Act.

(Click for video of remarks as delivered)

 

Ranking Member Boyle’s remarks as delivered:

First, I will say whether people are voting yes or no on the various bills in front of us, I commend the Chairman for the way he has conducted this committee over the last year, 13 months, and his sincere passion for this issue. It is coming from a good place. I also want to say about a year ago when we kicked off our first committee hearing, we both said that this would be a committee for substance.

 

I have been extremely distressed at the last 13 months of dysfunction and nonsense that I've seen on the House floor. By my count, I could be off on this math, so check me, I believe we have had 12 different votes this year to either censure someone, impeach someone, condemn someone, yadda yadda yadda.

 

So at least here in this committee, we aren't engaging in any of that performance art, and actually dealing with substantive issues, whether one will vote yes or no on the final product. Now, on the fiscal commission, we've obviously had a couple of hearings before this markup. So I've already made my views on this matter pretty clear.

 

In the end of the day, regardless of process, it comes down to people. And whether we go the regular order route or take a bit of a detour in the fiscal commission route, it still comes back to us, the elected representatives, who will be faced with a choice, before 2033, in the case of Social Security. And before that, in the case of Medicare.

 

Either raise revenues, make cuts, or some combination of the two. And no super-duper, maximum, blue-ribbon-to-the-extreme commission will change that fact. Now I'm quite clear in terms of the side I come down on. I believe more revenues are needed, into both the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.

 

I actually will give credit to something that Ron DeSantis said. Yes, I was watching, I might have been the only one, who was watching the Ron DeSantis-Nikki Haley debate. You can keep your comments on what you think about my TV viewing habits or social life to yourselves. But I was watching and Ron DeSantis said something that was accurate.

 

He pointed out that people paid into Social Security and Medicare while they were working in the 60s and the 70s and the 80s and the 90s, at times those trust funds were running surpluses. Surpluses that were spent by Congress. So it would be grossly unfair then when it's time for them to retire if all of a sudden they were facing cuts from a future commission.

 

Now I also want to say that the folks who support this fiscal commission, there are a number on this dais who are completely sincere and acting in good faith. But it would be naive to think that all of those who favor a commission are acting in the same manner. There was an op-ed in the last week by a former member, Jeb Hensarling, in the Wall Street Journal, who flat out, and I give him credit for doing it in an upfront and aboveboard way, made the argument for cuts.

 

He made the argument for Social Security cuts and Medicare cuts. The point of his, and if you look at the hyperlink the Wall Street Journal used, spelled it out pretty clear. Forget the commission, we just want to go straight to the entitlement cuts. That’s the argument that he was making and that many others in the Wall Street Journal make.

 

So there are absolutely those who are getting ready to use a commission as a backdoor way to force through unpopular cuts that I completely oppose and will completely oppose. I thought that the former Chairman of this committee, your predecessor, and my predecessor, John Yarmuth, had it right, that in the end, it comes back to people.

 

And no commission is going to replace that reality. We need, and I will forcefully argue, for us to have the courage to vote to increase the revenues into Social Security and Medicare. And if we do that, we can put both on firm footing [as the Chief Actuaries of the Social Security Administration and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have] verified. We can put both trust funds on the path to full solvency for the rest of this century.

 

We don't need a commission to do that. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.

 

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