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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  November 30, 2016 3:00pm-5:01pm EST

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talking economics, people, i think, understood that that message is very, very important to us as democrats, especially leaders on the front lines and, you know, in some way representing the 30, 40 or 50 seats we are going to need to pick up. so i think the message resonated and if you heard marcia and eddie nominate me they talked about that is correct us being able to compete in every district in the united states with an agenda that resonates with the american people. >> stadid you get any reason ony you didn't get enough votes? >> i didn't ask anybody. i didn't want to have my feelings hurt any more than they already were. let me just say leader pelosi has been here a long time, she has a lot of friends, this is her caucus clearly, but we had an opinion and we wanted to make sure people heard it. >> mr. ryan, do you think the message is getting through to the leadership? you talk about a coastal party.
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do you think the message about the heartland is getting through to the leadership? >> i think so. i think having a vote of 63 other members agreeing with the message, i would say that the leadership understands that there is a good many people in the caucus who want the message to move in that direction. >> i'm sorry? >> do you agree that your effort was pathetic? >> yeah, not pathetic. i'm proud -- i'm proud of having 63 votes. chad. >> mr. ryan [ inaudible ] comes from a rural area saying there is no greater divide between the urban democrats and the rural democrats and by electing pelosi you got 24 votes fewer than six years ago that this doesn't address the problem. you've launched a conversation that you said she can't go into certain districts, that that's still the problem. >> well, we are going to
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compete -- you know, at the end of the day we've got to figure out how to win. i tried to add to that conversation. now we are a united caucus and we are going to try to figure out how to win. >> before tim continues let me just say this because i'm hearing the tone of this and i really don't think it's very fair. we did not lose today. today we won. we may not have won the position, but we won a caucus. we have now a leadership that listens to what we are saying. we have now a leadership that wants to be more inclusive and include more people from this caucus, we have now a leadership that wants to hear what we have to say, what we think went wrong, how we fix it. he didn't lose today. today we made a caucus and we are responsible to its members and so for that i congratulate him. one-third of the members of this caucus had the courage to come out and say we needed a change and i congratulate all of them and for those who voted for our leader, i think that's great, i think she is a wonderful leader but what i do know is when i go
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home people are going to ask you what did you do to make this better. doing nothing doesn't make it better but today we won because they hear us. >> mr. ryan, do you personally have confidence that nancy pelosi could bring this party back to the majority? >> yes. >> you do? >> yes. >> why do you have confidence in her? >> because we are going to work our butts off to make that happen and it's not just leader pelosi, it's a team and i think part of this campaign was to help energy jazz a lot of people that want to get out there and contribute and i think -- i know walking out of that room today that we have a more energized caucus that we have had, we obviously had people who have a lot of courage to step up and to say to the leadership what marcia just said and how important that is. so i think our prospects have improved just because of this conversation. as i said from the very beginning, you know, we are a family and sometimes families have to have tough conversations. you can go back to the first
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couple interviews i did and nobody wants to have them, we try to delay those conversations, we try to ignore them for days, a weeks, months and years sometimes, but every single time you have that conversation, that tough talk, you come out of there stronger and whether it's a personal relationship or in a family event like this and i think we come out of here strongly than when we went in. >> who is the future of the democratic party? >> well, i haven't thought about that, casey. >> is it nancy pelosi? >> well, yeah, i mean, to some extent. this is our leader. this is who our caucus chose and we're going to support them. >> what is the problem that democrats have in a nutshell? who is going to lead the party for the next four years? >> we are all going to participate in leading the party. now is the time when everybody had as to step up. you see this crew here, a lot of young members stepped up, went public which is unheard of in a
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political caucus like this for young people to stand up so we got a lot of people that are ready to participate. i will take one more question. >> how do you think working class voters who voted for donald trump if your leadership is from san francisco and new york? >> well, we are going to have to figure that out. that's going to be part of what we have to figure out and obviously that was my case that i made, you know, we didn't win the day today but as marcia said there is a lot more people that are participating, i think that the conversation is shifting to a more economic conversation and i think that's going to help all of us and that's going to help us be able to try to win the house back. >> do you think that your voice and your ideas will be heard moving forward in this caucus by pelosi? >> yeah. yeah. all right. thanks. we've got to get back and vote. and we do expect to hear from the rest of the democratic leaders elected today later on we will have that for you. here on the c-span networks. live here now at the brookings
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institution we are just a moment away -- well, this event actually under way right now, that's representative tom price talking about the federal budget process. live coverage on c-span 3. -- co-sponsor this event, the scholars at brookings and at committee as well as the national budgeting round table that have been part of the driving force in this town behind an effort to reform the congressional budget process. i want to thank you very much for lending your time and expertise and passion to this issue. budgeting isn't something that usually fills up rooms so we're very excited today to have a full room. before i begin i want to mention three specific things, items. one, i want to thank all of my budget staff who is here, they've done yeoman's work and incredible diligence in producing this product and among those individuals is my colleague congressman todd
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rikita from the great state of indiana. former secretary of state vice chair on the budget committee. second is that i have a terrible cold and i apologize for that which is why i just did a todd rikita in slow motion and i have a loss evening in and i apologize for that if i cough in the middle of it i will take a sip and put another one in. as stuart mentioned i received some interesting news yesterday that has changed my world and life and consequently my schedule. so i'm really pleased and excited about being here today and presenting this but i will not be able to stick around after ward for a q & a and i apologize for that. so we meet today less than one month after one of the most momentous presidential election outcomes most likely any of us have ever seen. a lot was said during the campaign and a lot was said about the campaign, but one of
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the biggest take a ways that i see is this, and that is that the american people want change. they want real change. the american people are fully aware that government as we know it is not working well and they want to shake things up in the system that we have here in washington. there are many reasons why and no one person and no one party is responsible for the good or the bad or the ugly that we see coming out of washington. let me submit, however, that a large portion of the gridlock that we see here in congress between the legislative and executive branches comes squarely from a broken budget process. the work is not getting done, it's not getting done on time and certainly not in anything approaching an orderly or efficient or accountable manner. in the last five years only one out of 60, one out of 60 appropriations bills has been passed on time. before the end of the fiscal year. the government has been fully funded only once in the past 20
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years on time. to keep funding the government in 18 of the past 20 years we've relied upon year long continuing resolutions basically a stopgap measure where congress has adopted and the president has signed omnibus bills, this is when washington throws all of government spending into a giant package that is by design incredibly dense, challenging to comprehend in any expedient manner and generally devoid of the level of transparency that the american people desire or expect. in short, no way to run a government. and it's occurred under republican control, it's occurred under democrat control and it's occurred under divided government. it doesn't matter who controls the levers of power when the system is flawed. two years ago when i sought the chairmanship of the house budget committee i made it known to my colleagues in the house of representatives that the overhaul of the 74 congressional budget act was an absolute priority and to that end over these past two years our committee has held as many as
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nine hearings on this specific issue, we have received testimony from over 30 witnesses, we've produced numerous working papers, white papers that many of you have seen i trust and that document the challenges that we face and the solutions that are possible. as members have become familiar with the process as it stands today, through the development of two budget resolutions and the ongoing appropriations process there has been a near universal recognition that something has to change. at the core of our efforts have been six principles which speak to not only the failures of the current system that we aim to fix but also to the additional successes that we aim to achieve under a new and improved budget process. so today i'm excited to provide an update on the progress that we have made in our committee toward achieving a substantial overhaul of the budget process and to ask all of my colleagues in congress, our friends in the policy community, the think tank community who have thought long
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and hard about these issues and the american people at large to review the work that we've done and provide your feedback on these ideas. first, enhancing constitutional authority. fittingly we ought to begin any discussion on budget process reform where it all began, our constitution. article 1 of the constitution gives congress the power of the purse. the authority to determine the federal government's level of taxation and of spending. over the course of many years and many congresses through both republican and democratic leadership the lenlts lay testify branch has seeded too much of its budgetary authority to the executive branch. we have given the president and their regime of regulators too much power which has weakened the representative framework of our democracy. this has got to stop. first and foremost when it comes to the budget of the united states congress should go first with its proposal under the budget process reforms that we envision lawmakers will continue to consider a congressional budget resolution with information gained from a current services account
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estimate from the executive branch prior to the president submitting his or her request. timing may seem like a small distinction, but the current scenario where congress is essentially responding to the president's budget is completely backward and antithetical to the constitution's goals and framework. speaking of timing, with he ought to align our fiscal year with our calendar year. that means that january 1st is when it would all begin, that will better reflect the schedule of congress and provide policymakers with more time to get their work done. further, we propose putting in place a plan to reduce spending on unauthorized programs. a substantial portion of federal spending goes to programs and agencies that congress has failed to authorize for years, sometimes even decades. that's a fundamental failure of oversight. if congress wants to spend money on an yid or an agency or a program it ought to explicitly and in a timely manner declare and justify its intention to do
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so. within this same framework falls the annual appropriations process and changes to the timing and design of how we keep the government regularly funded. passing 12 individual appropriations bills all the way through congress has, as i stated earlier, failed to occur rather consistently for quite some time. one solution that's garnered rather popular attention and a claim is the idea of buy annual budgeting, dropping the goal of approving 12 annual appropriations bills each year and instead spending the first year of congress dealing with budgetary matters and authorizing spending for two years so that the congress can spend more time on the oversight in the latter half of two-year cycle. biannual budgeting while a popular concept i don't believe will solve in and of itself all of our budgetary woes, however, the concept has received broad bipartisan support. what we propose is dividing 12 appropriations bills into two tranches, six in the first year,
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six in the second year of the congress. each funding government functions in their yar on a biannual basis. we ought to see how it works and reevaluate at a later date and that review process should include the requirement that the governmental accountability office prepare a report on the effectiveness of the biannual budget process. meanwhile, a prohibition on long-term continuing resolutions is an absolute must. congress should never forfeit its budgetary responsibilities by passing a stopgap measure that covers more than a year of governmental activity. at the same time congress ought to expand the use of its budgetary authority by allowing for multiple reconciliation bills to be considered under a single budget resolution. increasing the opportunity for policymakers to pursue major multiple major reforms within each of the three reconciliation categories of spending revenue and debt. second area, strengthening budget enforcement. of course a budget that is not
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enforced is worth less than the paper that it's printed upon. right now budget rules and restrictions are easily circumvented often through gimmicks or outright waving of enforcement measures. we should empower policymakers to prohibit such actions. there should be unequivocal opposition to any efforts by congress to use gimmicks to declare it is offset spending when it's done little more than clever accounting. we have to eliminate the opportunity for congress to pursue spending and tax legislation when there is no budget in place. this not only makes sense from a budget enforcement perspective but it also helps ensure that congress is exercising its responsibility to establish broad fiscal policy in line with the priorities adopted by congress. however, there could be no real budget enforcement if too much of the spending is outside of the purview of the budgeting process. congress needs to look at the whole picture to it has a complete understanding of government spending and obligations. at the same time we should
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broaden the pabase of programs subject to automatic budget enforcement procedures and funding for emergencies should be truly that, funding for an emergency, for a defined relatively short amount of time and not become a long-term line item in the budget. third is reversing the bias toward higher spending. one of the more fundamental challenges that we face under the current budget process is the inherent bias in the system for ever higher spending. the baseline that congress uses for its budget projections, the amount against which any change is measured or compared assumes that government programs which are scheduled to expire and automatic spending programs like medicare which are headed for insolvency are simply a part of permanent spending obligations and therefore do not have to be accounted for or subject to the same level of scrutiny as other federal spending measures. meanwhile programs funded annually through the regular appropriations process are
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automatically assumed to be given a pay raise due to inflation. this assumed automatic plus up is unnecessary and the baseline shouldn't pre judge congressional decision-making on spending increases. what is necessary for all lawmakers to consider is the cost of not just implementing a given program but the cost of borrowing if need be to fund that program. right now interest payments on the government's debt is completely missing in the cbo cost estimates of new legislation and we think it's important to change that. additionally committees considering legislation that will have an impact on the nation's fiscal outlook ought to have the estimate of the impact of that legislation in hand before they go to mark up or approve or disapprove the legislation. quite often members don't have that information available to them on the costs of the potential legislation until it's too late in the process. fourth, controlling automatic spending. for all the time and attention that they receive the
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appropriations bills that congress is supposed to pass each year represent only a fraction and it's a decreasing fraction of the government's annual spending. two-thirds of current expenditures are dedicated to a relatively small number of automatic spending programs on the mandatory side like medicare, medicaid and social security and other mandatory programs which are not subject to annual appropriations and, therefore, operate largely outside of the control of congress. in a few short years over 75% of the annual budget will be consumed by automatic spending, meaning that congress will have less and less control over the spending that occurs. that means that the american people will have less control over how their hard earned tax dollars are being allocated. this is unwise, it is irresponsible and it's sustainable. to establish control over this spending first and foremost we ought to prohibit congress from creating new automatic spending programs that are not included as part of the annual budget resolution. this doesn't preclude congress
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from at some point agreeing to create a new automatic spending program, but it would ensure that the conversation begins within the context of a budget and the nation's fiscal health. right now there exists no reputable process in place to establish enforcing spending limits. sure we've got the statutory caps that are in place right now on discretionary spending but they are not part of any long-term strategy for economic growth or for national security. meanwhile, we have uncontrolled automatic spending programs that are eating up an ever increasing percentage of yearly annual tax revenues. it's an unsustainable trajectory. we need a system that gives congress the opportunity to establish spending limits and to put those limits into law. and to do so within the construct of the annual budget resolution. when congress adopts a budget resolution to govern its appropriations process there ought to be a way to spin off or an opportunity to send to the president for his or her signature a joint resolution that would put in law limits on
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spending based on the parameters that are established in that budget resolution. one way to lessen the burden automatic spending a placing on our budget is to bring back more programs under the umbrella of annual appropriations process. this could be done by establishing a commission similar to the military's base realignment and closure or brac commission that would evaluate automatic spending programs and which ought to be transferred over to the discretionary side of the ledger. congress would have an opportunity to vote up or down, for or against the commission's recommendations. in each of these instances congress, the people's representatives would have a say in the treatment of our automatic spending programs. that really is key since many of these programs are critically important to the health and economic security of the american people. fifth, increasing transparency. nothing says good government like transparency. a little sunshine. a representative democracy must
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be open and accountable to the people and that's why in our budget process reforms we put a premium on transparency. the american people should know where their tax dollars are being spent and they should not have to be a budget analyst to figure it out. the congress and the executive branch should provide a description of their budget to the general public in language that is easy to understand and scrutinize and searchable. we also believe in bringing the facts to congress so that it acknowledges the reality of where our nation stands from a fiscal standpoint. that's why the reforms that we are proposing would require the comptroller general of the united states to deliver an annual fiscal state of the union. address to congress and the country so that we are all provided with regular updates on the significant challenges from a fiscal standpoint facing our nation. transparency should also flow to those that are developing and implementing regulations. every administration relies on regulations to implement its agenda and support the legislative work of congress. moving forward, however, we
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ought to account for the impact of those regulations and that's why we're calling for a regulatory budget to catalog the cost of proposed regulations and the aggregate impact of the regulatory state on the health and well being of our nation. and then finally ensuring fiscal sustainability. while the budget process is in on the surface about the year to year funding of the federal government's operations and agencies, the ultimate goal of any budget ought to be long-term financial stability. putting our nation on a financial trajectory that will ensure future generations inherit a country that is fiscally sound, economically confident and globally competitive. short sided thinking or short term solutions will by definition fail to get us there and that's where we currently are. that's why a new budget process ought to ensure the relative long-term fiscal health of the country by focusing on the nation's debt obligations over the coming decades, specifically
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we ought to adopt a series of long-term declining debt targets enforceable by enhanced reconciliation. should that fail there must be an automatic enforcement mechanism so that we're putting ourselves on a path to ensure that we leave our kids and our grandkids a brighter future. the changes that are needed can be as simple as implementing a rule in law against increasing long-term spending to the more complex reforms like requiring risk-based discount rates when evaluating the government's credit to insurance programs or to the revolutionary idea of changing the debt limit calculation to not a dollar value as a limit, as it is today, but the level of debt as a percentage of the economy as a percentage of the gross domestic product. short sided thinking in washington is one of the biggest threats to ensuring a sustainable healthy fiscal outlook. anything and everything that we can do within the budget process to force policymakers to
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consider the long-term consequences of their actions and their decisions will go a long way toward ensuring america is a vibrant economy and a secure future. for all of our efforts to include the input of members and policy experts from outside congress we recognize in this process that there will be other solutions that could contribute greatly to improving the nation's fiscal outlook and that's where we propose establishing a special commission tasked with reviewing different budget concepts so we are incorporating an outsider perspective into the conversation. such a commission would examine and report to congress on how portfolio budgeting and capital budgeting systems could be implemented at the federal level and how they might ultimately foster balancing the budget. the ideas that i've discussed here and others are included in a discussion draft for budget process reform that our committee is releasing today and each of you will have the opportunity to pick up a copy on your way out. we invite anyone and everyone to
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share that i know insights and input and to take part in this important initiative. there are items within our proposal that are certainly controversial or may elicit serious concerns and that's fine, that's healthy, we ought to have that discussion, we welcome in and all feedback. at the end of the day our motivation is not the process, but the product. how do we create a system of checks and balances that will ensure we are producing solutions that make our government more efficient, effective and accountable to the american people. the congressional budget process is really just a means to an end. the end is a nation that is miss daily sound, economically healthy, safe and secure and full of opportunity. today's budget process is failing the american people and our nation and we must and we can turn that page and hopefully this proposal provides the impetus for getting us moving in a better direction. let me once again thank brookings and the committee for responsible federal budget for their sponsorship in inviting me
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today. thank you so much. god bless. [ applause ] >> thank you very much indeed, mr. chairman. thank you for laying out these very comprehensive proposals, as you said there are copies at the back for everybody to have a look at when they come out -- when they leave. i know you have to leave and i know you have time for just one quick question from the moderator. i know also that given that at this early stage in the nomination process it can't be about hhs or healthcare. so let me ask you this: you have been the driving force on the house side of discussions of budget process reform, as evidenced from your comments here today. if things go as you hope you will be -- you will be through the process and you will be leaving the congress and the committee. in that eventuality how can you
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assure us that the momentum for budget process reform is going to continue in the house? >> it's a great question and the good news is that this isn't just a tom price effort. this effort grew from frustration literally on both sides of the aisle about the budget process. there isn't anybody that's happy with what's been happening from an appropriations and budget process in congress over the past couple of decades and so the work product that we've produced today is from our committee staff and the input that we had from members and from folks in the think tank community and ideas that we had, but we are not -- we are not wedded to just that and that's the good news because what we want is the input from everybody. i believe that there will be somebody -- if i'm given the privilege of moving to a different position, that there will be somebody or bodies in the house of representatives who will pick up the mantel.
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this is so important. this is so incredibly important. the house republican conference has embraced the idea of budget process reform and so i have all the confidence in the world that what will happen moving forward is that hopefully this will begin that serious discussion so that within the next two years we will be able to have a piece of legislation that we can move through the congress of the united states. >> i hope you are right about that and thank you again for coming this afternoon into thank you. thank you all. take care. thank you very, very much. i appreciate it. >> if you would please be seated, remain seated. i have great pleasure in handing over to my mcginnis to the committee for responsible federal budget who is the co-host of this meeting today and please if the panelists will start to come up. meyer has been in charge of the committee since 2003 and she's focused on budget process issues and the budget and economic -- economic issues for many, many
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years not just at the committee but at the new america foundation and earlier at the brookings institution. so i'm pleased to hand over to her to conduct the panel. thank you. >> thank you so much. thank you, stuart, for putting this panel together. okay. camera people, you cannot leave. i know you're here for budget process. great to have too many cameras interested in budget process. okay. well, i'm really excited to lead the discussion with a great panel but also really a great product from dr. price and his staff from the budget committee that's here that's put together something i really think is worth discussing. many, many times budget process -- i'm going to be honest -- is used to avoid talking about the policies. a lot of people use it to avoid actually confronting the fiscal policies that we are going to have to grapple with and that's not the case in this process, i believe. it's actually put together -- i think the other thing that you sometimes see with budget process is it becomes a random
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grab bag of all sorts of ideas that have been sitting on shelves for two decades, this he throw them in there, but this is actually, i think, and i will be interested to hear what the panel thinks, kind of a thought out whole process where the budget would be looked at more comprehensively and it's a chance to address some of the questions that dr. price brought up, whether it's missed deadlines to gimmicks to poor fiscal outcomes, i think there is a real method to it and i think it's the beginning of confronting all of those policies. i also this i that dr. price has a lot of credibility on this because he has also worked deeply in the policies that are affected by the parts of the budget that he's looking at to reform. it's not instead of, it's in addition to and i think he has a lot of credibility on that. so we have a great pam today, we are also going to have time to have a discussion with the audience because i see a lot of budget experts here today. so i'm just going to quickly go down, i think everybody knows who we have, james wallner, harry stein from the center on american progress, phil joyce
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from the university of maryland and david wessle from here at brookings. also this is the kind of moderator i am, i'm going to ask those broad questions and i encourage you to answer whatever question you had wish you had been asked instead of the specific one. i think we should just have a discussion and i think you should jump in and talk with each other as well. but i guess i would start with it is important when you're thinking about budget process what problem are you trying to solve. and there are plenty of people who say, you know, it's not the process that's the problem, it's the -- what do they say -- >> the problem. >> the problem is the problem, not the people. i almost blamed it on the people. sorry. it's the problem that's the problem. i think there is a lot of problems with the process, but do you think the process needs to be reformed and what are the biggest problems you would want to solve through budget process reform? we will start with james. >> first thank you to brookings, stuart and maya and the committee for a responsible federal budget. i want to commend chairman price
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and the budget committee for putting together a great proposal, there are a lot of good ideas there, a lot of refreshing stuff to see. you know, i would just start off by saying i might be one of the people who thinks that the process is a bit of the problem but the people or the problem is also the problem so maybe it's good to start with me. i'd like to just take a step back and share with you how i try to approach these issues and assess the future effectiveness of any proposed reforms and i think that does require us, first, asking what do we mean when we think about and talk about the budget process. and for me that's just a set of rules and procedures that governs how congress makes fiscal decisions at least in theory, right, and it comes from the same place that all of the other rules in congress come from, article i, section 5 the rules of proceeding clause in the constitution. the reason why i think that's important is the implication of this is that factors that are negatively impacting the budget process should also show up
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elsewhere and i think if we were to ask any of you in the audience you would likely say that nothing in how congress is making decisions today is actually working very well. and i think that's not a coincidence. i think a lot of the same factors that are negatively impacting the budget process are negatively impacting the legislative process more generally. and this reflects, i think, a more general inability to form sufficient coalitions that are willing to take the votes necessary to pass public policy on a sustained basis. that's the fundamental problem we are looking at today. it isn't a rules problem per se, although that is certainly part of it and i think the rules can be more rational and more efficient but it is a problem of political will. pure and simple. that's it. and the reason why we're talking about budget process reform so much lately is the problem has gotten bigger and it's gotten harder for members of congress and both parties to show some sort of willingness to tackle
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that problem and so here we are. i would just say that the effectiveness of these proposed reforms should be assessed in this light. that doesn't mean that reforms that don't increase the political, you know -- the cost of ignoring the problem are bad, but it's not necessarily going to solve the problem. so biannual budgeting makes a lot of sense but we are not passing appropriations bills in the house and senate for a lack of time. i mean, i think it's important to keep that in mind. you know, broadening the programs that are subject to automatic budget enforcement, also a very good idea, but the current automatic budget enforcement of the budget control act on a narrower subset of less salient programs isn't being allowed to go into effect, we typically waive it. another thing to keep in mind. again, these problems i think are very important, very good proposed to tackle the problems that we have but it's a fundamental lack of political will on both sides of the aisle to stackel the long-term fiscal problems of this country that is
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leading us to have this discussion. >> all right. thank you. harry. >> i think it's a good question. and i think that, you know, to me when i look at budget process pre form i don't think that fundamentally the budget process is the problem, i think that the budget can drk the budget process currently can work when members of congress want it to work and when they're able to work together. now, that said there are certainly issues with the budget process and there's ways to make it work better. i think that one example in here that i think is positive from chairman price's proposals is eliminating the term limits for members of the budget committee. i honestly did not know that rank and file members of the budget committee were term limited. i think that generally term limits make it harder for members to build expertise on the issues they work on. hopefully that leads towards getting rid of the term limits on economy chairmen in the house which i think would be a positive step forward. but the fundamental thing that i want to ask on budget process
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reform and government reform more generally is does this make government more responsive, accountable and transparent for the american people? as chairman price said, we just had an election where it's very clear that people feel like washington isn't hearing them and they want to do things differently and, you know, i think it's important to note here that there's actually some very good political science research that shows that those people are right. martin and benjamin page did a study looking at this and there's this depressing quote in there that after you control the preferences of wealthy americans and the preferences of interest groups ordinary americans seem to have absolutely no impact at least nothing statistically significant or observable on public policy. and that's -- that's just -- should be phenomenally depressing and we should have a budget process that works to solve that problem. now, unfortunately and i think the most important of price's proposals that is going in the wrong direction and this was the
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having caps on debt as a share of the economy that decline over time and are enforced by across the board spending cuts. so basically sequestration but sequestration for medicare, medicaid and social security. those programs are extremely popular with the american people, the american people support expansion over cuts for social security, they support protecting medicare over cutting medicare to reduce the deficit. the wealthiest americans have the opposite opinion, they tend to support cuts to medicare to reduce the deficit. now, people can disagree on this from a policy standpoint but that's where people stand. we should note there's no fiscal arithmetic that forces cuts to these programs. you can stabilize the debt as a share of the economy over the next 30 years entirely with tax increases and we would still be a low tax country by international standards. now, you don't have to support that policy, but to say that we have to cut medicare because of fiscal math is simply not true. what worries me about what
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chairman price has laid out here is it sets up a system where members of congress can vote for large tax cuts and then they can vote to reduce the debt and they never actually have to vote on cutting medicare, medicaid and social security. so, for example, president trump -- president-elect trump has proposed tax cuts that cost $6 trillion over ten years, i ran the math on this during the election, paying for those with an across the board cut includes $1.7 trillion in cuts to social security, $1.1 trillion in cuts to medicare. you would reduce the average monthly social security benefit which is only about $1,200 a month, you would reduce that by about $170 a month. people with disability, radio he tirees and people on fixed income and you will take away $169 a month from a low amount of money they have. people can disagree on the policy on that but they should have to vote on that. this is creating a process where the accountability for that choice is divorced from the people who are making it and i think that's a fundamental mistake for budget process
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reform. >> so i will start by just not amplifying very much because i agree with the prior two speakers that the fundamental problem that we have is not primarily a problem with the structure of the budget process, it's a problem with the operation of the budget process which does not mean there are not reforms to the budget process that could create incentives for the budget process to operate in a sort of different and more timely way. the second thing i will say is that this is a serious effort that there were these nine hearings that were held and i testified at three of those hearings which is not what makes it a serious effort by the way but it doesn't hurt. >> the other six hearings were horrible i hear. >> right. exactly right. i'm not sure if i'm 3 of the 30 witnesses or only one, but my point is that, you know, based on the number of members that were in attendance, the kinds of questions that were asked, you know, these were -- this was a
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serious effort and i think this is as mike suggested a proposal that hangs together which doesn't necessarily mean you need to agree with all of it, it simply means that, you know, often you do get a sort of hodgepodge of different ideas that are thrown together as if they are a unified proposal. i actually think this is a unified proposal. if i were going to identify the things -- and i think some of them are things that this proposal really does address that are the most fundamental problems with the budget process, i guess i could list, you know, 10 or 15, but i will stop with two and those two would be the timeliness of the process and i think if we want to talk about trust in government, why would the citizens trust a government that has only managed to enact appropriation bills on time four times in the last 41 years? you know, they may not know exactly what's going on but every time a new spade of
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stories comes out about how we have to have a budget agreement on appropriation bills by x date or we're going to have a government shutdown. at some point it doesn't matter whether we actually have a government shutdown or not, it's a sort of demonstration that the congress and the president can't do their job. so to the extent that anything in here is creating incentives for the congress to actually get its work done on time, i think that's actually the most important thing that could be done. the second is on this question of whether we should have targets or not, i think the question of whether the targets should be as harry suggests, there should be a lot of debate on that. the question of whether there should be a target, i'm on the side of saying we ought to know where we're trying to get to and that a lot of countries around the world have what's usually referred to as a fiscal rule and a fiscal rule simply means that we have an overall sort of macro level goal for where we want the budget to get to and whether that's a percentage of gdp or
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something else it would be useful to know where we are trying to head and then there can be all kinds of debates about how it is that we get there. we don't necessarily have to get there by cutting spending, we could get there by increasing taxes. if you had some kind of consensus which we lack and we have lacked for a long time on what the overall goal for the budget process ought to be, i think that would move us a long way toward at least knowing where we're trying to get to and then figuring out how we're going to get there. and i will stop there. i will save my other comments for later. >> thank you all. i'm tempted to say i agree with everything and we should go home. so i don't think that the -- i think that the -- the reason we worry about this is not because the process is messy. if we had a budget outcome that we were more comfortable we would tolerate a messy process. i think a lot of us aren't comfortable with a process as
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congressman price said wherein creasing fraction of the federal budget is kind of on autopilot, although i think contrary to what the chairman said congress can and often does tinker with medicare and medicaid so it's not like they really don't have any power, but in general too much of the budget is not getting annually reviewed and too much of the pressure on the budget are things that we think of as investments in the future. so there is a problem with the outcome which then should lead us to look at the process. secondly, i do think that if congress wanted to make the current process work they could and i think it's nice, but naive to think if we had just different rules and some of these are very complicated that somehow congress would say a-ha we really meant to play by the rules, now that you've made them complicated and a little bit stricter and put all these laws in place that now we're going to behave, i just don't think it's going to work that way.
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third, i do think that congressman price and the people who worked on this thing did identify a number of issues that really need to be addressed and one of them as has been said is just our absolute lack of long-term focus which i don't look at as necessarily a question of too much spending or too little spending but just that we don't seem to be able to look beyond the next -- you know, congress thinks they have succeeded if they avoid a shutdown does not seem like a very high bar for a representative democracy. phil and i and a number of other people have done a little book on thinking more about the long-term that we're going to discuss tomorrow at the bipartisan policy center. i think that they're right to he can to us on this. but, you know, we have the luxury of being able to look through this to say i studied it would be a strong exaggeration. i want to pick on a cull things to call them to your attention. one is it's very nice to say that if we move the start of the budget year until january 1st that would give congress more time and they would work better.
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let's remember that congress moved the deadline -- the beginning of the fiscal year from june 1st to september 1st because they said it would give them more time and so i'm a little skeptical that if you -- just if you move the thing three months that suddenly everything will be an orderly process. i'm trying to imagine what election time would be like in years where they hadn't finished the budget. do we have this bizarre situation where they're refusing to vote on things because they don't want to do it before the election. second i'm trying to imagine president trump coming into office and being told by the way, boss, you can't do anything about spending and taxes for 2017 and for half the appropriation bills you can't do anything for 2018. i don't think -- i don't think -- i don't think the president would be happy with that, obviously that isn't congressman price's concern at least not for a couple of weeks, but i don't actually think the american people would be. i think when the american people have a presidential election the president runs on a program they
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don't want to be told, oh, because we set up this rule they can't do anything for two years. one more thing, maya because there are other issues that are really interesting and important in here, but one of them is congressman price when he talked to us about the budget process was very clear that he was looking for a neutral process, one that was not sort of pro republican or pro democrat and i worry about whether we have really achieved that here and make two observations. one is if you define the process and harry pointed this out, as too much spending and you basically bias the thing against raising taxes even if people in america would be willing to pay more taxes to get more spending then you don't have really a neutral process. and secondly i feel like this is a nice conversation but completely divorced from reality when it looks like according to leader mccarthy and others congress is just going to repeal the aca with one reconciliation bill and do a big cut bill with another reconciliation bill so
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they don't have to really deal with getting -- dealing with very many democrats in the senate. so it kind of feels like we're going to talk about this nice process, but before we put this in place we're going to dismantle much of president obama is doing and half of the new deal on the way and we would like to have this level playing field thing. so i think that it's a little bit in contrast with the spirit of the times which seem to be i won the presidency, the republicans have the majority in congress, we're going to do stuff and the democrats better dbet out of the way because we've found a way, one that the democrats have used successfully i would admit to get -- to avoid needing to get a bipartisan consensus. >> okay. a lot of good thoughts there. i have a couple i'm going to share but just so you know my next two questions coming at you all will be is there something you think we should do for the budget process that's not in here, other things you would want to see more of and two i'd like to dive deeper into the issues of baselines which is one of the pieces that's interesting
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in here. just a dumb thoughts as i was listening to all of you with really good comments. one thought i had is i think after this election it's a really important time in this country for rules and institutions and things -- and systems that people feel are fair because we have a more polarized partisan really tough environment than i think any of us have seen in quite some time and we need people to have faith in the processes of government even as our politicians are figuring out how they're going to work through things together. i think the importance of budget process being something that is understood and followed on a regular basis is critically important. i actually think this is maybe a tough time to get it done but an important time for a strong budget process. i was thinking about what the most important priorities you would want it to address are, this one may -- it may address this, i'm not sure, but a whole piece of budgeting that i think is really missing is evaluating our national priorities and figuring out what our biggest priorities are. portfolio budgeting is one area
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they've talked about which i think would go forward and address that. i think if you have baselines less biased in one direction or another that gives you more choices and more chance to revisit the national priorities. i would love to see a process that focuses budgeting on what it's supposed to do, establish what your national priorities are, put in place a plan for them, put a place a plan to fund them. so i think this does this somewhat, maybe could do it more. the other one that i have concern about is the fiscal outcomes and i am really interested in the debt targets as a piece of this. i think the debt targets -- i agree and i will talk about this in a minute with your concerns, harry, but i think having a fiscal target to start with exactly like you said, phil, it's a necessary part of a budget. it seems to me kind of crazy to try to put budgets out there that don't have anyplace where they're going. there's no rs fog mechanisms for evaluating tradeoffs which are what budgets are supposed to do. and just like having dead parents as a share of gdp is important i really like that it switches the debt ceiling to look at debt as a share of gdp
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which is the right way to think about it, i think. but i think having the sequester-like if you fail to hit your debt targets it's only spending targets, i'm all for broadening broadening the base. i don't think putting medicare and social security is a bad thing. sit part of what needs to happen. you can have one where you have a that nobody wants. we thought we had that with the sequester. turns out we didn't. so maybe we don't understand what people are willing to do to not make the hard choices. or, two, to get a southwest you through the debt targets through. to have a biased approach doesn't make any sense at all. i thought you could have huge tax cuts and never vote for cuts and entitlement spend issing would not make this plausible to begin with. you want both sides to adopt them and both sides to think the
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rules are fair. but i do think it is is an interesting time for a whole fresh start for a budget process. sit not that the process would be so much better than the old one. if we followed it, the old one would be fine. but sometimes you just need a reset. back to questions. what do you wish the committee did include or would include? and if you have any thoughts on baselines, which is something that has been debated for many. years. >> it is a great question. there was a working paper on this. it was very helpful paper as well. again, i want to take a step back. and i think you're absolutely right. i think we should think big. at least in terms on of assessing what kind of system we want. there's no reason to necessarily be bound by the existing status quo. this requires us to think through what kind of process we want, what kind of things we
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value. there is a tension between do you want a more deliberative decision-making process that may be perilous for its members. they have to take top votes, right? but it does deliberate. it does arrive at stable outcomes. but it will be more difficult to get change. it may take a while. you may get decisions more quickly, but they will be less table and maybe more one sided. the fund mental progress we have, it is within all areas of congress, in my opinion. and i think you see this in the election in what motivated millions of americans around this country. they are not seeing claims a adjudicated in the halls of congress in the floors of the house and senate. they are being told lots of stuff when they're politicians or the candidates are asking for
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votes. they're told we can't do this because this happened or we can't do that because that happened and all of this other stuff. it's frustrating. so thinking through this process, and it may not be the most glamorous thing, it is important that we think through what kind of process we want is and what kind of things we value. yes, it may make congress a little less secure electorally. the last i checked, congress wasn't designed so members could come back year and year and year on an easy basis. it is is designed to represent the people. and i think it's clear that the people aren't getting what they want right now. >> i'm going to let someone else weigh in on the baselines. i think the one thing i really like which i said is to have a long term goal.
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it is not to say we have a long-term goal for debt-to-gdp. in the budget review, they talk about goals for other things as well. i think it is is important to put the budget in economic policy in general. the goal is not to have only and congressman price said this well at the end. to have a growing economy and equal opportunity for social mobility and stuff. so i think if we're going to do long-term planning we have to have something that says more that matters is debt to gdp. we have learned the hard way that automatic stabilizers in the budget are really important. that you want some spending when the economy hits a rough spot and then contracts when the economy gets better. we have some automatic
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stabilizers. some of us feel one of the lessons of the great recession is we didn't have enough and we ought to be thinking about expanding those. you can't count on congress to do fiscal stimulus when needed. also, the stuff doesn't always trigger off when the economy gets better i would want to make sure any budget process we did didn't stop us as automatic stabilizers. that is more people are going to be on food stamps when we have a great recession. more people are going to be on medicaid when we have a great recession. we want to think about getting more monies to state and local governments. if you think of everything as we have to put a cap on everything because otherwise it's out of control, i worry we will be setting ourselves up to make the business cycle much more severe than it is is. it invites then congress to -- you hope congress will wave those things when we he have another great recession. i'm not sure that's actually going to put us in a better
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place. >> the stop of the budget committee, if you feel, oh, my gosh, i need to clarify how this works, just flag me. you can say, oh, we do have ways that during the sessions there's -- i know in other countries when they have these kinds of target, they take the business into account. >> it's always a really fun day when a top fabric gets to agree with something the heritage foundation said. >> is that you, harry? i have some days more than i used to have. it is is really important is the idea that the process -- people should be able to see the process a adjudicate in competing claims. they don't see that enough. one thing that is important in these discussions is probably it needs to be broader in budget process and think overall about congressional process. i think a lot of the problem with not seeing things
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adjudicated is when amendments aren't allowed. so there is just one vote, and members have no opportunity to offer amendments. but i think it is a problem for government. i think one of the on -- i have no objection. when you're discussing your budget, what is your fiscal goal and what your other goals are. when the president's budget comes up, you can see where his budget would go with the economy over time. you can see at least where their total is going. you can see where we are going down. that's a good thing. where i think you don't see claims adjudicated well and when the process starts to break down when you start divorcing them from the question when we get
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there. that is an enforceable goal. it is much more biased when it is only across the board spending cuts. i don't want to see across the board tax increases either. i want to the see members of congress identify policies that work to get to the fiscal situation is and to support the government that they want to support. and when you divorce these decisions from each other, it is easy to vote for a goal and say figure out later how to get there. and at the core of a lot of this i think is this theory that congress doesn't compromise because they're not being forced to. and i think that's probably incorrect. in fact, we tested this with the sequest sequester. before that even. in 2011, president on i pwhapl, i think it was a mistake this, used the debt limit to force debt reduction. instead we got the control act.
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and then the skweequester proce would force the super committee to design something better. i don't think sequester for social security, medicare or middleclass taxes is a great way to go in the future. and so something that i wish i did see here, i do agree that thinking about debt as a share of gdp is the way to think of it. and it's good to see the chairman thinking about ways to make the debt limit more rationale. i would be concerned with doing that. where gdp is shrinking, you may increase even if you don't get there in nominal terms. a default crisis at exactly the worst time to be dealing with that. there is no reason for the debt limit. there's no purpose that that serves. if you vote for spending and you vote for revenue policies, there
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shouldn't be any question that you will pay the bill when it comes due. it used to be the debt limit was a way to embarrass the party in charm. ultimately we pass the debt limit. it changed into something that was taken into hostage where there was something you had to get in return. that is very dangerous. we almost defaulted several times. and i think we need to get out of that situation for future administrations. whether that is abolishing altogether, congress has an ability to disapprove. and i think again you're spending revenue and debt together rather than saying we will have a vote just on debt without acknowledging the policies that got us there. >> just before you go, because i want to just disagree with you
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on one thing. it is more interesting to have a panel where there is some disagreement. i disagree with you, and i may be wrong. i fear that the way we ledge slate is by last minute or almost crisis. so i think sometimes what we're trying to do is create action forcing moments. if you look at last year, i wasn't fans of either of the bills because they added to the debt tremendously. but we had sgr, tax steppeders. those came because deadlines are hidden. we added to the debt, so i wasn't the biggest fan. i'm trying to think when congress has made hard choices without some kind of forcing mechanism. >> i think most americans, and don't want to see more sgrs, more government shutdowns or defaults. and it is quite a positive thing. over the course of the obama administration, enough of these
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had been resolved that we no longer have two budgets base lines. we have one. that works. there is no longer a need for an alternative. i hope it stays that way. current law is reflective of where we think the laws are. and the affordable care act. there was no forcing mechanism there. it expanded coverage. 20 million more people have health insurance. the law reduced deficits. it is has in fact, done that. the reduction grows over time. the affordable care act and the overall slow down in costs, which seems to be partially due to the aca, but also the reforms that the aca made directly in medicare in particular, total spending on federal health programs is less than cbo thought it would be in 2009. think about how amazing that is. we're talking medicare and
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medicaid in 2009. now we have medicare, medicaid, affordable care act. and we're spending less money than we thought we would covering 20 million more people. i saw an ad today encouraging congress to repeal demonstrations under the affordable care act. they took a lot of flack for the cuts in benefits. they were genuinely hard choices. they can oppose the affordable care act. thatted real law making. >> i'm going to hope to get the congressman to weigh in when he wants to. >> so is in terms of just following up on that directly, you know, in terms of things that i would do differently or things that i would add to this that aren't here, one of them has to do with the debt ceiling. i agree completely with harry that i would just get rid of the debt ceiling.
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and whatever we think about action forcing mechanisms and whether they're a good thing, playing russian roulette with with the u.s. economy is not a good action-forcing mechanism i think what they're doing here is a step in the right direction. but i would go all the way and just get rid of the debt ceiling. the second thing i would do, which goes a little further than they are going here, is i like the idea of not having term limits for budge committee members. i would go further i have suggested elsewhere making what are now the budget committees, committees on national priorities and have them include the chairs and ranking members in the congress. i think it is actually a good thing if what are now the budget committees will be setting priorities for the congress, then they ought to include the people who have the most stake in that. those are the chairs and ranking members of the committees. the third thing that is not addressed here ask and might be on the commission of budget
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concepts, i don't see any mention of tax expenditures here. and i think focusing on tax expenditures and the transparent is seu of tax expenditures we can do things for the tax code. nobody knows we have done it. whereas spending is very transparent. i would likes to the see that addressed more directly. i did want to the take you up on your offer to say something about baselines. because i'm going to do something that may just be telling of the time that i spent at cbo. but i'm going to defend baseline. and i think the things that are said here may be true, which is that there may be some tendency for baselines to sort of drive spending up. baseline serves a use purpose. that is for answering the question what are reactually doing in terms of our ability to finance current policy. many of the same people want to
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get rid of baselines also i think would say if we froze the defense budget in nominal terms from this term to next year, we would have less defense capability this year than last year. that to me is the purpose of the baseline. how much would it cost us to continue to do the same things we're doing now? in that sense, baselines are a useful concept. they are not unique to the congress and to the federal government. this is a standard thing to do in budgeting. they asked question, how much is it going to cost us next year to continue doing the things we're doing right now. >> okay. so baseline is as-is. no comments on baselines for you? >> no, i agree with you. to say we're not going to adjust the baseline for inflation is to not use the most quick live meaningful way of measuring what current services are. >> do we have mikes for questions and answer?
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i'm going to go ahead and force you to answer something. then we will open it up for q&a. >> i would like to thank everybody for being here. speaking on behalf of the staff i would concur with dr. price. this is going to be -- this is a serious effort, as you say. i suspect it will be a permanent effort speaking as a rank and file person in congress basically. there is a lot of energy behind this. and a lot of interest to get it done. nothing that, this is a discussion draft. i appreciate everyone's feedback. i appreciate that i'm sure that are still to come. there may be some in rank and file. regarding the limits of appointments, the budge et committee didn't exist before the budget act of '74. and i am the committee for six
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years. i intend to stay. and not at the appointment of another committee. that might be something that i might want to add to it. not only get rid of the term limits but have a budget committee sans appointments. i don't know if that will go far. but i think that would -- remember, the appointments were there to make sure that the budget committee, this new creature didn't get too out of hand? >> the appointments made by the rules committee and way asks and means. >> and appropriations. >> so, you know, but definitely with -- appreciate your comments on getting rid of term limits. >> on debt ceiling and deadlines generally. congress is a reflection of you. everyone sat here and talked about congress in the third person. but we are a reflection of the country. guess what, we're human. and because we're human, we react to deadlines just like
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each of you do in your academic professional career. deadlines to on your point are a good thing. with regard to the debt ceiling, i don't look at it as holding hostage. perhaps we wouldn't need a debt ceiling if we were a reserve currency. because we can print money out well and we are at least ugliest at the dance, the world dance, who knows if that's going to change a lot, we get away with a lot more than others do. and i think a debt ceiling -- i love the ideas and reforms that are in here. and with a bias getting spending down and your feel we will not address tax expenditures,
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confiscations of people's property, i would say when you look at the debt ceiling, it is near vertical. i would love to see your numbers. i disagree you can tax people enough -- yeah you can tax people enough to stabilize the debt for the next couple of years, but not ultimately. in fact, i believe you can conscious fist skate 100% of the value people produce in goods and services. at a point you are still not going to be able to pay off the doubt without reforming the spending. so from a congress mapp's perspective, that's how we're coming at this. not from the bias of one politicality over another. but the real problem which is spending, not revenue. thank you. >> are there other questions people want to jump in right now? okay. i see a hand back there. tk yes, you. >> my name is matton.
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i'm just a student in the area. i have a quick again. i wanted to jump in to response to what the congressman just said. i appreciate all your years of students for the constituents and the american people, but i take slight offense with the comparison of this budget deadline in comparison to normal budget deadlines. i think this sort of like we're human sort of sounds like an excuse for such an important thing as was mentioned at the beginning. this is one of the most important things that congress does. so that was just a quick note. but i was wondering if the panelists could talk about the political realities on increasing the number of discretionary categories. i don't appreciate that so much is outside the purview of the budget crisis, but i worry increasing it adds to an already complicated process that barely seems to get done as it is.
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thank you. >> when i was just a student i didn't even know about discretionary spending. >> with regard to the number of discretionary bills, we're talking about 12. there is nothing magical about 12 appropriation the bills. that's one thing to keep in mind too. we need to step outside the box and think through how we structure these decisions. i think the deadlines are good. the debt ceiling represents an inflection point that forces people both out in the country and represents in congress to make these tough decisions. as long as they are made in a transparent way, that is a good thing. we need more of that kind of stuff. basically we need more conflict in the budget process. but it is important how that conflict is arrived at. it needs to be open and transparent so people can see what their representatives are doing, how they are vote issing
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on things. then they can weigh in on the back end and say, yes, we love congressman x because he voted for y. or we really don't like him and we don't think he should come back. it is not just congress's fault. i would completely agree with that. and there are a lot of good proposals that help increase transparency in the process to on help achieve that kind of debate. until we have that debate, none of this stuff matters. it's not going to get anywhere because they will keep responding to the signals which is to not take these tough decisions. >> one thing we should point out responsive to your question that people may not know that's in here is this was established a commission to recommend converting mandatory spending programs to discretionary programs. and so you can say whatever you like about that idea. of course we don't know which programs, whether that is medicare, medicaid, social security. we would wait for the
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commission. but if you want conflict in the budget process, that will get it for you. you have to debate every year what the level of spending is going to be for medicare, medicaid or social security. you will have your wish. >> you speak to a capacity issue. this definitely gets you conflict. it's been done once before for the wrong reasons. but the appropriations committee doesn't need responsibility for every discretionary bill. nothing magical that the appropriations appropriate and authorizers authorize. the senate got rid of the committee and gave subcommittee to each of the authorizing committees. i'm not sure if that's the best way forward or not. these are the things we need to think through when we try to design a system that can speak to the problems we address. >> i used to work for a member of the appropriations committee.
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so i would like to authorize. >> that is a funny joke, just by the way. go on. >> i think it is is worth backing up and saying, why is this the case? why is -- why are more resources flowing through mandatory expenditures? one reason is congress has decided years ago to establish programs that the do that. so i get a little bit annoyed when i see pie charts from 1965 and then 2015 is and say, wow, mandatory spending has grown. well, we passed medicare and medicaid. that's what's going on. there is also mandatory programs that could easily be discretionary. there's discretionary programs that could probably be mandatory, that basically congress funds them year to year based on whatever is needed on
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more or less an entitlement basis. it is worth figuring out is there way to rationalize that. you are seeing more programs go through the mandatory size is because they have enacted caps that are too low. because they have done that, money finds a way. one way it does that is that you're saying, okay, we want more money for medical research. well, there is not justify money right now for discretionary spending to do that. so we have to make it mandatory if we're going to be sure that will make it to institutions like nih. if you have caps on discretionary spending that don't reflect national need and if you have caps on mandatory spending, there's all of these tax breaks. you see congress doing this any way. this is a reflection of the american people. to the extent
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people have an aversion to spending. but they want to the see things done. tax breaks are a way to provide government resources, particular activities to not be increasing spending. i don't think there's a functional difference whether a government subsidy is handed out via spending or tax the break. they tend to be skewed to those at the top just because of the tax code. there is nothing wrong with them where they make sense. they tend to get a lot less scrutiny and transparency than spending programs. i would be nervous about a system where the only way for congress to respond is with more tax breaks. >> stewart butler and i will be publishing a paper shortly to think about how to get a compromise on this. it wouldn't go unchecked as it does now. where you would actually have to
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consider the budget, look at the long-term budget, take an affirmative vote and regularly go back and check that the track is one that congress approves of. so congress would own this trajectory instead of having it go. and the discussions, exclusions. they are about a trillion dollars of on revenue because they are more like spending programs. i'm not sure we have all the details figured out. it is one of those ideas, it builds off a project that was done here where a number of people from brookings and others take more ownership of that portion of the budget. is there another question? yes, right there. >> my name is sister rachelle freedman for the coalition of human needs. i feel like whenever we talk about budget, there's one big looming thing that we don't acknowledge. there is a lot of very well
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funded big efforts in this country and a whole group of people that believe we need a smaller government. therefore, we have a sense that any -- this group loves it when people take a no new tax pledge. i'm not going to raise taxes. for many of us who work in the low income community, we know the safety nets are so critical to people in our nation that are really hurting. and so i just want to say it grievous me greatly that a lot of these well-funded efforts are making real headway into our government and into people's minds. even when i look at people who voted for our president-elect. a lot of those people i think voted frankly against their own best self-interest and fed into that smaller government concept. but we need government to do some things that charities can't do and that people, many of them
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can't do for themselves. >> question for the panel? >> i would just appreciate any comment or feedback. >> i think that is such an important point. so often when we have these about budget we divorce them from the actual people and the actual things that we're talking about. that's where the wealthy and special interest groups can influence to a greater extent.
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whenever we can make the budget conversation about real people, that is -- that's where it should be. we talk about process. even had this gets arcane. and to go part about -- that a lot of us is no tax, no tax. we are the 5th out of 35th. below us is hong kong and singapore which are not comparable anyway. 1.7% of gdp. if we reduce the annual budget deficit by 1.7% of gdp if we did that, our tax burden would be
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the 6th largest out of the he 35th advanced economies that the imf looks at. not to say that's not going to be a meaningful change in tax burdens, but it is is simply not true that we can't have social security and medicare. >> what concerns me is -- i don't think we can do it all on the spending side or all on the tax side. i think pretty much everybody knows that. what concerns me is we don't want to have a process that allows one or two really bad incomes. you can have low taxes and low spending. that is a bad outcome. you can have the opposite. but the trouble is we need to match our spending and our taxes. if we want to have these
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programs, and many of us do, we have to be willing to pay the taxes to support them. that's what this exercise is about, trying to forge that choice. people have different takes on smaller government, lower taxes or bigger government is and higher taxes. we have to find a way to the make that decision in a way that is more orderly. >> just to concur with that, sort of the -- people connecting us to people is incredibly important. people want social security and medicare. they also don't want a huge debt. they also don't want huge taxes. how do you have all of those put together? you can do it all in taxes, which i think you can. the argument you gave was a little bit misleading. to stabilize the debt where it is today is twice what it has
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been on average. so that might not be the fiscal goal that everybody would pick. i would agree revenues could get you there at some point. they would have to keep going up. >> i'm not advocating that should be the position. >> we are all saying you want a budget process that is transparent. >> but that needs to be connected to what decisions are you actually making. instead of saying, and here's how we get there. disconnect one piece of this. would you like more or less?
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sure, less. there are reasonable arguments out there that lower adjustments. others disagree. when you ask them, do you want to cut social security and medicare, unless you're one of the wealthiest americans, you tend to say no. >> one more question back there. we're switching from what we thought would be a democratic white house to a republican white house, people are for different debt trajectories depending what policies get us
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there. people who said it's okay to have a higher debt level may not be as sympathetic when it comes to cuts. fiscal hypocrisy is not above us. >> nonpartisan. >> it is across the board. we should try to remember everybody loves increasing the debt when it is for their favorite programs. >> just a few technical issues on the proposal. on the pro cyclicality, we would retain procedures for low growth. we would retain procedures for a conflict, the ability to suspend any limits. and further more, when we talk
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about everything being in play, we're not necessarily saying any enforcement has to be across the board, some uniform percentage. we're not pro colluding congress from making decisions that some programs, you know, shouldn't be proportionately addressed. everything should be part of the dialogue and the discussion. we shouldn't pass along some program is off budget as part of what we do. it has an impact on on capital markets. we're saying it should all be part of the discussion. we're being neutral as to how congress gets there, what the fiscal policy is, what the mix
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of discretionary mandatory measures are. we're not prejudging that. we are putting in a marker that --. >> hold the mike toward your mouth. >> on the thing, when we talk about the debt limit, i want to point out that part of this proposal is that as long as congress and the federal government as a whole are within the targets that are established by law, there is no need to raise the debt limit. so it's going in the direction of what some of you just advocated.
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if they do and they stay within that trajectory, they shouldn't have to continually act to raise the debt limit. and on the baseline, you focused on the discretionary side and whether it was realistic to assume that discretionary spending is held flat. well, the concept in laws is supposed to be current law. that is we reflect spending and revenue levels what they are in law. from a law perspective, appropriations would be zero. we don't think that is realistic. it is say closer approximation of what current law is to leave it what congress enacted.
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here all we're saying is that we should have parity in the baseline. what will happen if you don't change policy. you don't want to have in rules like we do now that have separate rules for treating revenue that expires and spending that expires. and all we're saying is they ought to be treated on a comparable basis. you can do it one way. we can do it another way. i don't think there's a really a bias in there. the last point is on the discretionary in the mandatory, all we're saying is that there
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should be the ability to address spending to the extent that you can on a comparable basis. mandatory and discretionary. we don't have the symmetry with mandatories that we do now with discretionary. we're coming up with a device. this is similar to what gene sterling and rudy pepper have talked about. developing a process where we can look at mandatories on an annual basis. it doesn't prejudge where we set that. we're not saying they have to be set here as opposed to there. we are saying congress should have some comparable basis to be able to look at both sides of the equation. in our process where many of these look, walk, and talk like a discretionary program but they
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are mandatory because they are funded outside the limits we would hold those harmless. we are presuming there would be an adjustment in the resources for that. the point isn't to squeeze out those priorities. you know, it's simply to put them in a box where as much as we can, all funding is part of a tradeoff in the federal budget process. i talk too much. >> we have negative time. and i'm sorry if i made you stand up and sit down. a quick question. >> if we're going to think long term about the budget 10, 20, 30 years, that's a good idea, shouldn't there be alignment that you're talk building and where rubber hits the rule, congress does the a cost estimate. the 10-year window they now use,
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shouldn't they be asked to do the same analysis in deal. some thinking about the longer term. >> sorry. you'll be happy with page 23. there is a rule against long-term spending and suggest cbo look out 40 years before it does any increase in mandatory spending. so i'm vlad i won't have to do a 40-year estimate. but the committee is thinking along those lines. >> as an alumnus, a, that should worry them and, b, there is a long history that the further out you go the more uncertain the estimates become. so we have to be careful we're
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not basing policy on bad numbers. >> rather than doing it year by year, they will do a 10-year lump score. >> thank you so much to our audience for coming. thank you to our panel. and thank you to stewart and brookings. [ applause ].
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congressman tom price, who spoke at the beginning of this event, has been nominated by donald trump to head up the department of health and human services. c-span networks will cover his and other confirmation hearings starting in january. his remarks and this entire program are available later today in our video library at house democrats earlier today re-elected nancy pelosi to be minority leader for the new congress. the leadership team spoke with reporters a short time ago. >> congratulations on your election.
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good afternoon and welcome. i am congressman joe crowley. i am the newly elected chair of the house democratic caucus. thank you very much, nancy. we have just concluded our caucus meeting where we elected the house democratic leadership for the 115th congress. i'm proud to announce that our colleagues have elected nancy pelosi to serve as democratic leader, steny hoyer as democratic whip, clyburn and sanchez as new vice chair and i am so proud to be the first woman of color ever elected to the house democratic leadership. but i'm humble to serve as the chairman elect of the democratic caucus in the next congress. election day was a difficult day for all of us, for our country,
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for our party, and particularly our caucus. we were at a critical juncture facing unprecedented challenges. the american people sent us a message, and the message that we need to respond to. democrats are the party with ideas and a vision. we need to do a better job connecting with people on the ground who made it clear they weren't listening or or couldn't hear what we had to say. let's focus our energies on charting a path forward for our caucus and for the american people. and it's clear that the group standing with me in front of me today are charged by our democratic colleagues that we are ready to do just that. we're ready to take on any and every challenge whether it is fighting against shipping away health care, privatizing, the attempt to privatize medicare,
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rolling back civil liberties or trying to privatize social security, unraveling regulations to protect our environment, our economy, and the american consumer. or anything else that hurts the american people. democrats will be there to fight our republican colleagues and the president-elect every step of the way. we're ready to get to work. we're eager to get to work. with that, it is my honor to introduce to you the democratic leader for the 115th congress, the gentle is lady from california, miss nancy pelosi. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. congratulations to you. and congratulations to vice chair linda sanchez. as you mentioned, with great pride we receive her as the first woman of color to serve as an elected leader of the house democratic -- any house caucus. but in any event, i'm honored to stand here with our
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distinguished whip mr. hoyer, assistant leader mr. clyburn. and he brings his values and his ability to communicate those values to the public. i associate myself with the remarks of our distinguished chairman. i think he gave a great presentation of where we are. and where we are is this place of urgency for the american peel. we have a responsibility, responsibility to stand with them, to engage when we can, to oppose when we cannot engage, and also the opportunity to do great things for the american people. so it is with great pride that i accept the privilege extended to me by my colleagues. some of us have had a chance to talk already about that. but i just want to focus on one
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of the items in the agenda of concerns that we have. every single day that goes by, americans are making more inroads into undermining medicare. it is their budget. their budget calls for it. it is a part of their agenda to take away the guarantee of medicare for the american people. they want to voucherize it. and the president-elect has named a person to the cabinet, a secretary of hhs who is committed to doing just that. so our call to action to the american people is to tell republicans in congress and the white house, keep your hands off our medicare. that's a message that people like to chant. it's never been more urgent than now. i want to also commend tim ryan for the race that he made for
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leader. he's an enthusiastic advocate for his point of view. i thank him for his courtesies extended to me. and i look forward to working with him. it is my honor now to yield to our distinguished democratic whip, mr. hoyer. >> thank you very much. congratulations to you on your reelection. i am very happy that we have joe crowley as our chairman of our cauc caucus. nobody doesn't like joe crowley. crowley is extraordinarily popular. he reaches out. one of the nominations says he has the gift of listening.
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i want to congratulate linda sanchez for being elected. she is a younger member. a dynamic member. she is the chairman of the hispanic caucus. she will bring a voice to our leadership that will be very important. john yarmouth, where you put your money is where your values are. it is a message as to our values. leader pelosi just talked about our values and ensuring that medicare and social security are held harmless. john will address child care, health care, global warming and other areas of extraordinary importance. let me say not just to you but to us.
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millions more people voted for the agenda that this leadership group represents. millions. we have a responsibility to those who did not vote for the agenda of donald trump, whatever that might be. we have a responsibility. we will meet that responsibility. we will raise our voices as the leader has said, in opposition. if there are times we can cooperate, our values will allow us to do that, we will do that. the voices of the american peel will be heard on the floor. we owe it to them, our children,
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grandchildren and to future generations. i'm pleased to yield to a great friend of mine who for over half a century has done just that from the state of south carolina, a great leader in our country, a leader in the civil rights movement in the '60s and continues to be a strong voice for working americans, strong voice for making it. james clyburn. >> thank you so much, madam leader, mr. chairman, thank you so much. madam vice chair, congratulations to you. linda is one of the stars of our baseball team. she really came through today. the best hitter we've got. and my long-time friend john
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yarmouth. i learned early in my life what is expected from those of us who serve in public office. our government must pay special attention to those who are in the dawn of their lives, our children. medicare and many other programs must be protected. we are also judged by how well we take care of those who are in the sunset, the dust, if you please, of their lives. we do that through medicine and many other programs to make sure that they live out their golden years with dignity and respect. our government has a responsibility to take care of
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all the rest of those who fall in between to a very progressive program that our whip has just mentioned. over 2 million more americans voted for than those who did not. however, there are pockets, segments in our population who sent us a message on election day. and i want to say to them, message received. and we will reply to the all. and with that, i am pleased to yield to the new vice chair of the house democrats, linda sanchez. [ applause ]. >> it's been a long day. but i'm proud to stand with my colleagues here. this is your leadership team for the incoming congress. we have a lot of work to do. we're ready to pick up the tools, roll up the sleeves and
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get to work. our primary focus, again, america's working families. as a working mother, i understand how difficult it is to balance family life with work. and we hope to make that a little bit easier for americans working families moving forward. i'm really honored and very emotional to be standing here among a group of great leaders and hoping to add my talents to theirs as we try to move the country in the right direction in the next congress. thank you. it is now my privilege to introduce a very good friend of mine from the great state of kentucky, the new ranking member on the budget committee, john yarmouth. >> thank you. thank you, linda. it is great for me to be standing here for the 115th congress. i have sat on the budget committee the last six years and watched how republicans proposed budgets that reduce investment
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in the capital in this country and propose budgets that do not but accentuate the difference between the wealthiest americans and everyone else. form, those haven't gone anywhere. one was so heinous that mitt romney had to disavow it in 2012 with paul ryan as his running mate. i don't expect we will see anything different in this forth coming congress. but we stand united in standing up for the values that democrats have always stood for. that's to invest in the american people and not fort wealthiest americans in the corporate world. i pledge to continue to do that as ranking member on the budget committee. and we're going to be very, very aggressive in our communications strategy to make sure the american people know the stark contrast between republican budgets and democratic values. so thank you very much for this great honor. leader, it's great and looking forward to the next congress.
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>> i failed to mention earlier john as well. john is one of the most quietly appreciated members of our caucus. people have profound respect for him as a legislator. we really couldn't be more proud to see john in this capacity i want to make that statement as well. so we will open it up to a few questions. >> in 2010 when you ran, shuler picked up 43 votes. this time there was 63 for paul ryan. what accounts for your view for the one-third of voters for your caucus voting for ryan. >> i always said, if anybody paid attention, i would have two-thirds. with all due respect to previous opponents i have had, one of them has waged an aggressive
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campaign in the public arena, as you have seen. and with the thought of a prospect of winning. i feel very confident about the vote i liberated than i ever have after a vote, after such a hard charging campaign. so you can't compare someone filing and running against you versus an aggressive campaign. having said that, i commend tim ryan for his race, and look forward to working with all the members, and i couldn't be prouder, and happier about the responsibility our colleagues have given me. >> do you see this as a war -- i mean, the idea that you're prepared to come in and serve as leader, didn't expect a challenge. mr. ryan -- we can talk about 43 versus 63.
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at the end of the day, doesn't it make your job harder, and the idea there is less support in the aggregate when you consider the -- >> no, in fact, i answered that question. i want to go onto the fact that the republicans are trying to end the guarantee of medicare. that is what is important. how many votes i get in the caucus is about the least important item that we could be discussing when we have so much at risk in this election. i have no -- i have respect for regional support that members have. friendships that people have. and that's how people make their votes. i don't take much of that as personal offense to me. and we are a collidescope. the other days, we turn the wheel and there are different
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participants. but i am ex i will rated by the support i've received after such a hard charging campaign. but now it is time to go forward. the fact is, i will just tell you as friends that the fact is that we have the fate of our nation, the greatness of america, the character of our country, that's been under assault, and we have to act to allay the fears that some people have. communicate more firmly with those who -- economic stability is essential and important to our nation's stability and important to us as a priority. and not spend our time figuring out whether if you go on tv, you get more votes than if you don't go on tv and how do you feel about that. i feel great. thank you.
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>> one of the changes or the things discussed today is not actually about your position but other positions under you and the need to have more truly elected positions, where members are not appointed, and then affirmed into a post, and i understand the discussions are happening tomorrow. but can you speak to why the system has been the way it is and whether you're open to making it more elected than appointed and confirmed? >> you know what, i mean, that's lovely. tomorrow we're going to have a caucus, we're proud of our new chairman. he manages all of the -- i won't say business, but the business of the caucus. very well. we will be dealing with that tomorrow. we have called for an expansion of those who will be participating in the leadership, and the caucus is ruling body of our -- of the house democrats, and we will be working out how
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we go forward. but this is not about division. this is about bringing people together. >> thank you all very much. thank you. follow the transition of government on c-span, as donald trump becomes the 45th president of the united states. and republicans maintain control of the u.s. house and senate. we'll take you to key events as they happen, without interruption. watch live on c-span. watch on demand at or listen on our free c-span radio app. thank you all very much.
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welcome to congress. for more on health care, the acting administrator for the centers for medicare and medicaid services on the progress of the health care law and future of a prevention based health care system. later, thomas reader, the federal agency that insures pensions of workers and private sector to find benefit plans. good morning. i do a fair amount of this public speaking in job, because part of the job, meeting with the public. when they told me it's time to go talk to the actuaries, i had
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a flashback of all the times in my career when i was about to release quarterly numbers and said you want to talk to the actuary first. i've been honored through the course of my career, and particularly so at cms to work with some of the finest actuaries around. so just a tremendous respect for all of you. i want to thank tom. i really want to thank the academy for a couple of things. for the objectivity, your technical leadership, expertise, hard questions of health care reform. you know, it doesn't matter what happens politically. there will always be i ongoing debates about policy decisions and your work and voice are vital to our ability to get it right. any study of american health care reform will reveal the series of fits and starts.
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i think the pattern is many years, we go many years with very little progress. followed by some significant event which catalizes changes. the affordable care act was such an event, as was macra, and in between these spurts of progress, we sort of tend to adapt and make adjustments as necessary to live within the new normal, all of us, no matter where we sit in health care. normally in my speech, i like to begin by extolling the virtues, but instead, i'm going in a different direction and talk a little bit about reminding us what it was like before the old affordable care act, when we were living in the old normal. the old normal, what was it like? really, it was a health care system that had at its core
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design a system that many of our neighbors and frankly many of us just didn't work. it wasn't that long ago. let me just go through them very quick health illness cycle what that looked like. 15% of the country had no access to preventative care. no, ma'am m no mamograms, no screenings, no reliable supports of primary care, let alone care management service for these people. therefore, what do they do? utilize the echl.r. for needed service. when they got sick, millions of people just couldn't or chose not to fill their prescriptions because they couldn't afford to. if they felt pain or needed surgery, or other expensive care, they ignored it for as long as possible. and then the finances were all backwards. people with low incomes were
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chased down for bill charges from hospitals well in excess of commercial rates. as a result, health care became the second leading cause of personal bankruptcy. what's the first cause? anybody know? divorce. or as mycin gi single friends s marriage. as a result of that, hospitals and clinics, bad debt became apart of the formula for how they operated. and that meant cause shifting, raising the price for employers and decreasing compensation to employees. of course, there were other effects. anybody who had a past illness was prevented from the ability to get insurance and as a result, it meant many people clung to jobs just very simply for the health benefits. finally, despite arguments that are sometimes persuasive for
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many, the market forces a loan should serve us best in health care. no transparent information. no incentive to build technology. no incentives for quality. no incentives for coverage. therefore, little inclination to do things better. as a result, you and i, if you're like me, would attend meetings like this once a year where we would talk about the problems, talk about the progress we needed to make. and then we would come back the next year and have the same exact conversation. or pretty close to it. i can go on, but i think the point i'm trying to make is that the old normal was bad for patients. it was bad for our health. it was bad for hospitals. bad for physicians. but it was also bad for our economy. bad for medical trend. bad for our


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