Mr. VAN HOLLEN. I thank our colleagues for a vigorous debate, and I would remind everybody that just a few years ago when the President was sworn in, our economy was in a total free fall. The bottom was falling out, we had negative 8 percent GDP, and over 800,000 jobs were being lost every month. And as a result of extraordinary actions that were taken, along with the tenacity of the American people, we have climbed out of that hole that we inherited. We have now had 24 months of consecutive private-sector job growth. Let's keep that growth going.
The budget that the President proposed, the budget that the Democrats proposed, did that. It expanded investments in jobs. The Republican budget will cut our investment in transportation next year by 46 percent when we have 17 percent unemployment in the construction industry.
Independent analysts have said that their budget will cost us 1 million jobs this year and cost us 2 million jobs next year. That's not what we need. The Congressional Budget Office has said that over one-third of our current deficit is because of underemployment. Why would we want to add to underemployment, as the Republican budget does? Now, in the long term, we've got to get our deficits under control. The issue is not whether we need to do that, the issue is how. As the previous speaker said, the question is the choice. Our Republican colleagues overwhelmingly have signed this pledge saying they are not willing to close one tax loophole--not one penny--for the purpose of reducing the deficit. And when you say to folks making over $1 million a year, you don't have to share any more responsibility of reducing the deficit, when you say to big oil companies we're going to keep going with the taxpayer subsidies, do you know what? You've got to take out the budget on everybody else, at the expense of seniors, at the expense of middle-income taxpayers, and at the expense of important investments in our economy. And that's what their budget does. That's why it ends the Medicare guarantee.
They're proposing to give seniors a deal that's a lot worse than we have for Members of Congress--worse than the one for Members of Congress, seniors on Medicare. They cut Medicaid by $800 billion, more than one-third of the program, by 2022, putting seniors and disabled individuals at risk. They cut education investments and would allow interest rates on student loans to double this July. Those are not decisions that we make if we want a strong economy and a robust future for our children and grandchildren.
So this is all about choices, and we don't think that it's bold to provide tax breaks to millionaires while you're ending the Medicare guarantee for seniors. We don't think it's courageous to protect big taxpayer giveaways to companies that ship American jobs overseas while we're cutting investments in education, science, research, and infrastructure right here at home. We don't think it's fair to provide another round of tax cuts to folks at the very top. The Tax Policy Center says it's going to be close to $400,000 on average for people making over $1 million. We don't think it's fair to do that, financing those tax cuts by increasing taxes on middle-income Americans.
I would challenge our colleagues: show us how you make up for $4.6 trillion in lost revenue from dropping that tax rate without socking it to middle-income taxpayers? So far, Republican colleagues have been absolutely incapable of showing us that they're not shifting the burden to middle-income taxpayers.
So, Mr. Chairman, it is all about choices. Unfortunately, we didn't pass the alternative Democratic budget. Let's not make the mistake of passing this Republican budget plan. We can do better. We can do what bipartisan groups have done, take a balanced approach, cut spending and also cut the loopholes for special interests. Let's do it in a way that the American people would say brings us together, rather than apart.
So I would urge rejection of this budget. It makes the wrong choice for America. I thank the chairman, and I thank my colleagues.