Rep. Capuano Questions Bush Budget Priorities

March 1, 2001 -- Rep. Michael Capuano raised concerns about several aspects of the Bush Administration's budget proposal during a Budget Committee hearing today. Mitchell Daniels, Director of the President's Office of Management and Budget (OMB), testified before the Committee.

"President Bush is trying to convince the American people that we can afford a $1.6 trillion tax cut, and still manage to protect Social Security, improve education and expand a number of important programs. We simply cannot do it all and it's time the Administration stopped making promises it cannot possibly keep - especially when our projected surplus of $5.6 trillion is just that, a projection," Rep. Capuano stated.

Rep. Capuano raised specific concerns about funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Labor and the National Science Foundation.

HUD needs an additional $3.9 billion next year just to continue providing the same number of services as this year. To address this shortfall, the Bush Administration proposes to reduce funds for public housing maintenance and upkeep, drug elimination programs and rural housing efforts. At the same time, the Administration claims it will increase funding for section 8 vouchers and provide more money for down payment assistance.

"It appears that the President is just moving money from one program to pay for another. The end result is that less money will be available to help the men and women who need it most, particularly seniors and others living in public housing," stated Rep. Capuano.

Despite the fact that current projections point to an increase in unemployment, the President's budget actually cuts funding for the Department of Labor and offers no increase in unemployment insurance.

"This means that, if unemployment does increase, the Department of Labor will have less money available to retrain or re-educate workers who have lost jobs," stated Rep. Capuano.

Rep. Capuano also raised concerns about funding levels for NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF). NASA's budget is up a modest 2% from last year. This, however, will result in real cuts to the agency's research and development programs because the increase does not keep pace with the rate of inflation. The NSF is in a similar funding predicament.

"Basic research has yielded major technological and medical advances. Alan Greenspan has credited technical innovation with contributing to the growth of our economy without inflation. Why are we underfunding research and development initiatives when their contribution to our country's economic growth is clear?" Rep. Capuano asked.

The Budget Committee, of which Rep. Capuano is a member, will continue holding hearings on the President's proposals in the weeks ahead.