As prepared for delivery
WASHINGTON - Chairman Camp, Ranking Member Levin and members of the
Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today on the President’s
Before I begin, let me say a few words
about the situation in Ukraine. President Obama has explained in no
uncertain terms, that the steps Russia has taken violate Ukraine’s sovereignty,
Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and are a breach of international law. As
the President announced this morning, he has signed an Executive Order to authorize
sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for activities that undermine
the democratic process, threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty,
or territorial integrity of Ukraine, or misappropriate state assets within
Ukraine. This E.O. is a flexible tool that will allow us to sanction those who
are most directly involved in destabilizing Ukraine, including the military
intervention in Crimea, and does not preclude further steps should the
sanctions build upon the previous actions that the United States has taken but,
at the same time, as the President has said, we are prepared to work with all
parties to de-escalate the situation and we call on Russia to take the
necessary actions to resolve this crisis. It
is in Russia, the United States, and the world’s interest to have a stable and prosperous
the Ukrainian government prepares for elections in May, it is critical that the
international community work together to support its efforts to restore
I have spoken with the Ukrainian Prime
Minister a number of times now, and he has told me that the government is ready
to adopt vital economic reforms. We have been working closely with
international partners and Congress to develop an assistance package that will
help the Ukrainian government implement the reforms needed to restore financial
stability and return to economic growth. As part of this international
effort, the United States has developed a package of bilateral assistance
focused on meeting Ukraine’s most pressing needs. This package will include $1
billion in loan guarantees and IMF quota legislation,
which would support the IMF's capacity to lend additional resources to
Ukraine and help preserve continued U.S. leadership within this important
institution at a critical time.
While the United States will not
increase our total financial commitment to the IMF by approving the 2010
reforms, it is important to note that for every dollar the United States
contributes to the IMF, other countries provide four dollars more.
At a time when the U.S. is at the
forefront of international calls in urging the Fund to play a central and
active first responder role in Ukraine, it is imperative that we secure passage
of IMF legislation now so we can show support for the IMF in this critical
moment and preserve our leading influential voice in the institution.
I want to be clear that even as we deal
with the unfolding events in Ukraine, we continue to focus on our central objective:
expanding opportunity for all Americans.
the past five years, we have accomplished a number of important things to make
our country stronger and better positioned for the future.
fact, since 2009, the economy has steadily expanded. Our businesses have added 8 and a half
million jobs over the last 47 months. The
housing market has improved, and rising housing prices are pulling millions of
homeowners from underwater. At the same
time, household and business balance sheets continue to heal, exports are growing,
and manufacturing is making solid gains.
truth is, as the President said in his State of the Union, we are more ready to
meet the demands of the 21st century than any other country on Earth.
our economy was thrown against the ropes by the worst recession in our
lifetimes, and while we are back on our feet, we are not where we want to be
here understands that. The question is,
what are we going to do about it?
President’s budget lays out a clear path to move us in the right direction. It not only fulfills the President’s pledge
to make this a year of action, it offers a framework for long-term prosperity
budget addresses the critical issues we face as a nation. It recognizes that
while corporate profits have been hitting all-time highs, middle class wages
have hit a plateau, with long-term unemployment an ongoing challenge. It recognizes that while the stock market has
been vibrant, saving for retirement and paying for college is little more than
a dream for millions of families. It
recognizes that while our national security threats are shifting and we are bringing
the war in Afghanistan to a responsible end, soldiers, military families, and
veterans struggle to succeed in our economy. And it recognizes that while work is being
done to put the final pieces of financial reform in place, reforms like the
Volcker Rule have made our financial system stronger and an engine for economic
growth once again.
The solutions in this budget flow
from a frank assessment of these challenges.
are carefully designed to show the choices we can make to increase opportunity and
bolster the middle class. For instance, a
cornerstone of these proposals is to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit so it
reaches more childless workers. We know
this tax credit is one of the most effective tools for fighting poverty, and it
is time to adjust it so it does an even better job of rewarding hard work. This tax cut, which would go to more than 13
million Americans, will be fully offset by ending tax loopholes that let high
income professionals avoid the income and payroll taxes other workers pay. Another initiative that will make a
difference for hard-working men and women is myRA. This retirement
security program will be available later this year, and it will allow Americans to start building a nest egg that is simple,
safe and can never go down in value.
While this budget puts forward
essential pro-growth initiatives, it also calls on Congress to reinforce our growth-enhancing
strategies by passing measures like comprehensive immigration reform and trade
promotion authority. But even as it does
these things, make no mistake: this budget is also serious about building on
the success we have made together to restore fiscal responsibility.
The fact of the matter is, the
deficit as a share of GDP has fallen by more than half since the President took
office, marking the most rapid decline in the deficit since the period of
demobilization following the end of World War II.
The deficit is projected to narrow
even more this year, and today, we are charting a course that will push the
deficit down to below 2 percent of GDP by 2024 and rein in the national debt
relative to the size of the economy over 10 years.
Last year, the President put forward his last offer to
Speaker Boehner in his budget as part of a balanced compromise. This year's Budget
reflects the President's vision of the best path forward. While the President stands by his last offer,
he believes that the measures in his budget are the best way to strengthen the
As this budget demonstrates, the
President is firmly committed to making tough choices to tackle our fiscal
challenges, and our fair and balanced solutions represent a comprehensive approach
to strengthening our nation’s financial footing. This approach shrinks the deficit and debt by
making detailed, responsible changes to Medicare while eliminating wasteful corporate
tax loopholes and subsidies that do not help our economy and scrapping tax
breaks for those who do not need them.
Increasing basic fairness in our tax
code is not just about improving our nation’s fiscal health, though. It is also about generating room so we can
make investments that will strengthen the foundation of our economy for years
to come. That means helping to create
more jobs by repairing our infrastructure, increasing manufacturing, boosting
research and technology and fostering domestic energy production. It means training Americans so they can get those
jobs by promoting apprenticeships and upgrading worker training programs. It means improving our education system by
expanding access to preschool and modernizing high schools. And it means making sure hard work pays off
by creating more Promise Zones, increasing college affordability and raising
the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and indexing it to inflation.
In closing, let me point out that this
budget represents a powerful jobs, growth, and opportunity plan. It is carefully-designed to make our economy
stronger while keeping our fiscal house in order. What is more, it offers Washington a real
chance to work together.
As everyone on this Committee knows,
for far too long brinksmanship in Washington has been a drag on economic
growth. But we have seen a significant
amount of bipartisan progress in recent months that has helped improve economic
momentum. Some cynics say it is fleeting. Some call it election-year posturing. But I do not agree. I believe this progress is real, I believe we
can keep finding common ground to make a difference, and I believe we can continue
to get serious things done on behalf of the American people by working together.
Thank you, and I look forward to
answering your questions.