Federal budgets are about priorities and tough choices. In the late 1990s, President Clinton and a Republican-led Congress balanced a budget from 1998 to 2001 because they compromised. If Congress is going to balance the budget, ideologically-driven politics need to give way to reasoned decision and thought. Unfortunately, Republicans continue to promote budgets that cut investments in transportation and education, and shift massive health care costs onto seniors, while protecting many special interest tax loopholes and subsidies. Furthermore, the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is expected to add more than $1.5 trillion to our national debt, while the overwhelming majority of benefits have gone to the wealthiest individuals and corporations.
Congress could balance the budget by making strategic cuts, ending wasteful subsidies, closing special-interest tax loopholes, and ensuring that large corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share.
Balanced Budget Amendment
DeFazio has introduced his own bipartisan balanced budget amendment over the years. The amendment requires any legislation that would increase the nation’s deficit to be approved by three-fifths of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Each year, the President will be required to submit a balanced budget to Congress.
DeFazio's proposal also requires any significant military action that is not a congressionally authorized war to be included in the budget, rather than declared emergency spending as in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan. This would force each year's budget to be honestly calculated.
In 1995, and again in 2011, DeFazio was one of only a few Democrats to vote for a balanced budget amendment. He supported such action because his colleagues on both sides of the aisle were not willing to make tough decisions. While both balanced budget amendments passed the House, they failed in the Senate. Had they passed, we would not be in the fiscal mess we are in today.
Ensuring the Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share
Each year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) leaves hundreds of billions of dollars in owed tax liabilities on the table. The tax gap—the difference between tax liabilities owed to the IRS and those liabilities that are actually collected—is estimated to be more than $600 billion annually, with the majority of underpayment coming from the wealthy. Unfortunately, the average U.S. household is paying an annual surtax of more than $3,000 to subsidize taxpayers who aren’t paying all that they owe.
That’s why Congressman DeFazio has introduced legislation that will give the IRS the resources it needs to ensure they are collecting taxes owed by the wealthy and rich corporations. This legislation would promote a fairer tax system and collect revenue that is legitimately owed that could go towards deficit reduction and invest in policies that will better support working families.
Audit the Pentagon
Throughout his time in Congress, DeFazio has been one of the most outspoken members of Congress on Pentagon waste and abuse of taxpayer funding. While DeFazio believes DOD should have the funds it needs to protect our nation and provide well-deserved pay raises and benefits to our troops and veterans, DeFazio opposes our current bloated defense spending
Since the year 2000, the Department of Defense (DOD) has spent over $13 trillion of taxpayer funds—making it the largest and most expensive department in the federal government. Yet unlike every other federal agency, the DOD has yet to pass a financial audit. To date, the DOD has spectacularly failed full financial audits, which have highlighted numerous examples of waste and abuse of taxpayer money.
DeFazio believes American taxpayers deserve to know where their money is going. That’s why DeFazio has authored and supported legislation to require every agency within the DOD to finally pass a full financial audit.
The bottom line is that fiscal responsibility and accountability at the Pentagon would allow for funds to be better spent supporting the needs of our troops, meeting our obligations to veterans, and ensuring our legitimate defense needs are prioritized.
Eliminating Waste and Unnecessary Programs
There is no reason to spend billions of dollars per year on antiquated Cold War-era weapons systems the Pentagon does not want. DeFazio has routinely supported efforts to eliminate wasteful and unnecessary programs while ensuring that the U.S. military has what it needs to defend our country from its adversaries.
Audit the Fed
The Federal Reserve (Fed) was created in 1912 to safeguard our financial system, protect consumers and oversee the regulation of banks. Over the last 25 years, however, the Fed has seemed more concerned with protecting Wall Street and its own secrecy rather than the American public and the nation’s financial well-being. Throughout DeFazio's time in Congress, he has fought for an independent audit of the Fed to ensure transparency, and he was an early cosponsor of former Rep. Ron Paul’s Federal Reserve Transparency Act. He has cosponsored other bills to rein in the Fed.
In 2008, Wall Street gambled with our economy, lost big, and then asked taxpayers for a bailout—which DeFazio voted against. Today, the CEOs in charge of the same banks that nearly destroyed the economy remain on the Fed’s Board of Directors and are charged with regulating their own industry. This outrageous conflict of interest jeopardizes the health of our financial system. DeFazio has introduced legislation to eliminate this gross conflict of interest and prohibit banks that receive money from the Fed from stacking these boards with their own employees. He will continue to fight to make the Fed transparent and accountable to the American people.
Stopping Corporations from Outsourcing American Jobs
Congressman DeFazio has also previously introduced legislation to discourage multinational corporations from moving abroad by taxing corporate profits on a per-country basis. Republicans promised that their tax plan would bring jobs home to the U.S., but instead it is encouraging multi-billion-dollar corporations to move jobs and ship profits overseas. DeFazio’s legislation would close the loopholes Republicans left open for wealthy businesses and eliminate incentives luring American jobs and American dollars to other countries.
More on Balanced Budget
Rep. Peter DeFazio today released the following statement in response to the Continuing Budget Resolution put forth by House Republicans:
Today while the House Budget Committee considers the Republicans’ fiscally-irresponsible FY 2018 budget, Rep. Peter DeFazio introduced legislation that would amend the U.S. Constitution to include a balanced budget amendment.
The amendment requires any legislation that would increase the nation’s deficit to be approved by three-fifths of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Each year, the President will be required to submit a balanced budget to Congress.