02.02.15

Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) On President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Proposal

A budget is about setting priorities, and the President’s front-and-center priority in his budget plan is to strengthen the economy by building from the middle out.  With our unemployment rate finally at its lowest since 2008, his focus is to make sure that hardworking families have the opportunity to share in the promise of a growing economy.  His proposals address inequalities in our tax code and widen the abilities of middle class families to get ahead by expanding investments in childcare, higher education, healthcare, veterans and housing.  He rightly proposes that we sow the seeds of continued economic progress by boosting our crumbling infrastructure so that America can compete and thrive in a 21st century economy.  That means improving the expansion and speed of freight and passenger rail, it means safer roads and bridges, and it means better broadband, including in rural areas. 

The costs of childcare and college education are rising faster than middle income families can afford.  That is why I strongly support the President’s call for increased tax benefits for childcare and early childhood education, as well as enhanced support for new or existing state and federal partnerships between community colleges and local businesses, to prepare students for jobs that will be there when they graduate, while making college more affordable.

As part of the President’s plan to continue to address budget deficits and eliminate sequestration, I also support his call to eliminate what may be the single largest loophole in the tax code: letting the wealthiest households avoid taxes on hundreds of billions in capital gains. The reforms he calls for would also make it more costly for huge, highly leveraged financial firms to finance their activities with profligate borrowing.  Tax policy has been drifting for many years, widening the earnings gap that separates the top and the bottom of the American income spectrum. 

Congress in the months ahead will also have the opportunity to set forth budget priorities.  I remain committed to continuing to fight for these and other priorities, such as protecting and preserving our greatest natural resources, including Lake Champlain; ensuring those on the front lines of law enforcement have the resources they need to protect our safety and our communities, as well as themselves; and to ensuring that there are no lapses in supporting our shared efforts to protect our national security, both at home and abroad.

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