Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rep. Engel's statement on deficit compromise

Rep. Eliot Engel voted against the debt bill earlier this week. Here is a statement from him which ran in this week's Riverdale Review. The bill, despite opposition from every Bronx congressmen, overwhelmingly passed.

Jump below for the entire statement:
I voted against the debt “compromise” bill because it is inherently unfair in forcing the middle class and the poor to pay for deficit reduction, while letting the wealthy and large corporations off the hook. The tax code is tilted in favor of the wealthy and large corporations, those who pay lobbyists to advocate for special favors. Hedge fund traders, who make millions, pay a lower percentage of taxes than a middle class family – that is totally unfair.

            The Tea Party wing of the Republican Majority played chicken with the dangers of default, and that has led us to a situation where the President and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were negotiating with a brick wall. GOP recklessness has taken us to the brink. No wonder the American people are disgusted with their government.
            Something must be done about our debt, but it cannot simply be achieved through spending cuts.  We must close tax loopholes, and make those who can afford to pay more, do just that.
            New York is facing especial damage from threats to Graduate Medical Education funding which is vital for teaching hospitals and essential Medicaid services in our state. New York hospitals annually generate nearly $108 billion for state and local economies, and more than 686,000 jobs through direct and indirect employment. Cuts to GME funding would force New York’s teaching hospitals to cut back on training doctors and reduce services to patients.  We are facing a nationwide physician shortage, expected to reach 130,000 physicians by 2025, so hindering teaching hospitals’ ability to train new doctors is inane. How can we put our citizens’ health at risk while maintaining tax breaks for companies such as BP?  How can we make cuts to hospitals and nursing homes through Medicare and not affect beneficiaries due to reduction in quality of care?  Even the 9-11 Health Zadroga Bill faces potential cuts – how can we justify denying health care to our suffering first responders while our wealthiest citizens enjoy historically low tax rates?
            Many economists believe that deep budget cuts now, are bad for the economy.  They also believe the federal government needs to spend to stimulate recovery. Our recovery is too fragile to risk sending it back into a double dip recession. It is in times of economic hardship that the federal government must step in to prime the economy. A balanced budget is only necessary when the economy is healthy. In difficult times it leads to situations where disaster victims are told they must find an offset in the budget before the National Guard and FEMA can help them recover when their town is destroyed.
            What is forgotten in this debate is that our society is based on a sense of humanity and helping. Our republic is supposed to be about our people, but this deal is about ideology and dogma.  With their long-held objective of doing away with Medicare in reach, does anyone expect the Tea Party Republicans to show future pragmatism and compromise? Democrats want a conversation on fixing Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, but the Tea Party Republicans are determined to destroy them. 
            I appreciate the efforts of the President, Sen. Reid and Democratic leaders but it is almost impossible to negotiate with the unreasonable. Our government should be more responsible to its citizens. Too many lives and the well-being of our country are at stake to be so reckless.

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