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Palmer Opposes Bipartisan Budget Agreement

October 30, 2015
In The News

Thursday, October 28, US Representative Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) voted against HR1314, The Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015.  The bill would increase the spending caps established by the Budget Control Act (a.k.a. sequestration) for the fiscal year 2016-2017 by a combined $80 billion, divided equally between defense and non-defense spending.  The deal also suspends the debt limit until March 15, 2017, allowing for an estimated $1.5 trillion in new federal debt on top of the $18.4 trillion that we already owe.

Congressman Palmer said, “Our national debt currently exceeds $18 trillion and this budget deal would guarantee it increases.  It continues the too familiar trend of spending money now with hopes of finding ways to pay for it in the future.  For instance, $35 billion of the pay for’s occur in 2025, which is simply unacceptable. Instead of passing this bill, which pushes us in the wrong direction by increasing spending and raising the debt limit, we should have answered the call of the American people to reduce the national debt and balance our budget.”

Rep. Palmer said, “Equally as bad is the fact that this agreement was negotiated behind closed doors with few participants at the last minute.”

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) negotiated the deal with the Obama Whitehouse and he disagrees.  Boehner said, “For the second time this year, we have a bipartisan agreement to put in place significant, structural reforms to help save our entitlement programs for the families and seniors who rely upon them.  We’ve accomplished this without any tax hikes whatsoever.  This bill marks the most significant reforms to Social Security since 1983, which will strengthen our social safety net and result in $168 billion in long-term savings.  It also provides the resources our troops need to accomplish their missions, and protects our economy from a dangerous default.  This agreement is by no means perfect, but on balance it’s a good agreement for our troops, for taxpayers, and for the American people.”

The Speaker’s office claims, the Bipartisan Budget Act HR1314   is fully paid for, will strengthen Social Security, and save taxpayers billions over the long-term. 

According to information supplied by the Speaker’s office, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that different savings and revenue components will fully offset the BCA cap adjustments made in FY 2016 and FY 2017. Changes in direct spending, including spending reductions in Medicare and reforms to SSDI, reduce spending in the budget window by $47.56 billion.  Coupled with additional revenues and savings from enhanced program integrity reforms, offsetting another $33.4 billion, the $80 billion dollar cap adjustment in the two fiscal years is fully offset.

The Speaker’s office said that Social Security’s Chief Actuary has confirmed that reforms in H.R. 1314 to Social Security’s Disability Insurance program will save taxpayers billions.  From the Actuary: “Over the short-term period 2015 through 2025, we estimate that OASDI program cost will be reduced by between $5 billion and $9 billion.”

US Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) and US Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) also opposed the deal.  The pair issued a joint statement in opposition to the legislation to lift spending caps and the debt limit: “The proposed debt deal takes as much as $150 billion from the Social Security Trust Fund for retirees and transfers the cash to the fraud-ridden disability program. There is no ‘surplus’ in the retirement Trust Fund to spend somewhere else – Social Security will be insolvent by 2034 and has a $9.4 trillion unfunded liability. This ‘reform’ accelerates the insolvency of Social Security retirement: taking money directly from working Americans’ payroll contributions to their retirement fund and transferring that money to the mismanaged disability fund.”

Sessions and Brooks continued, “The proposed deal also engaged in double-counting. In order to pass Obamacare – and produce a score suggesting it did not increase the deficit – Democrats double-counted the funds cut from Medicare. They claimed some $500 billion would be used to both extend the life of Medicare and also pay for new Obamacare spending. Of course, the same dollar cannot be spent in two different places. That same accounting gimmick is used in the proposed legislation to raise federal spending caps and increase the debt limit $1.5 trillion. Promoters of the legislation boast of minor savings from Social Security Disability to be collected in the distant future. But those insufficient ‘savings’ – which should be used to extend the life of a program facing dramatic insolvency – are spent instantly on new discretionary spending. This is not ‘entitlement reform,’ this is an accounting gimmick: any savings to be captured in the future from Disability Insurance are being spent instantly, today, on boosting bureaucratic budgets for federal departments like the EPA and the Department of Labor – making government bigger and more expensive.”

Despite conservative opposition the bipartisan budget deal passed the US House of Representatives 266 to 167.  This was John Boehner’s last day as Speaker of the House.  Rep. Paul Ryan is expected to be formally elected as Speaker on Thursday.