Ranking Member Womack Opening Remarks for CBO’s Budget and Economic Outlook Hearing

As Prepared For Delivery:

Good morning, and thank you to everyone for being here as we discuss the Congressional Budget Office’s annual Budget and Economic Outlook

The goal of today’s hearing is to analyze the CBO’s latest baseline projections. These findings shed light on our nation’s current fiscal challenges and guide us in mapping out a sustainable path for the future. This year’s baseline brings daunting news, with deficits projected to be 1.37 trillion dollars by 2029, and debt reaching 33.7 trillion dollars. While these numbers paint a sobering picture, it does not have to be America’s future. Without question, we must create a new path forward. Mandatory spending is clearly driving up deficits and debt. Our nation’s fiscal trajectory will remain unchanged if we don’t address this fact.

This is not only my deduction.

CBO has stated in the past that revenue alone will not solve this problem. In his testimony last year, Director Hall said that increases in entitlement spending are the largest drivers of the increase in the deficit going forward. Unfortunately, it seems that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle don’t recognize the severity of this problem — or if they do, I haven’t seen their plan to fix it.

So my question is, what is your plan?

I’m curious to learn, how can you reconcile your desire for astronomical spending increases with the need to address the issue of our ballooning national debt? Medicare-for-All, “free college” and other initiatives touted by my Democratic colleagues will exacerbate our nation’s fiscal problems. Rather than encouraging spending that will financially drive our country to the ground, Congress needs to face mandatory spending head on. Here is the reality: Our largest entitlement programs are facing insolvency. If we do nothing they will go under. Now, instead of fixing these programs, the new majority wants to expand them. This is irresponsible. We are facing a sovereign debt crisis – we know it’s coming.

So again I ask, what is your plan?

I assume it is to raise taxes. I’ve heard some would like to raise individual rates to 70% and possibly increase the corporate rate from 21% to 28%. Is that the plan? To drastically increase taxes to pay for out-of-control spending?

Let me be clear, we cannot tax our way out of this problem.

Again, as CBO previously outlined — the biggest budget challenges lie in mandatory spending. If we don’t address these drivers of debt, our march towards fiscal insolvency won’t stop. My guess is that Director Hall will reiterate this point, as well as the fact that revenue isn’t the solution. We need to work together to confront our growing debt burden and mandatory spending issues. So I ask one last time, do you think the deficit and debt projection released by the CBO is concerning? If you do – which I hope you do – what is your plan to address these issues? We have a moral obligation to future generations to get our fiscal house in order. I hope all committee members agree with that. I look forward to productive conversations today with Dr. Hall and my colleagues.

Thank you, and with that, I yield back to Chairman Yarmuth.