Republican Rep. Diane Black told Newsmax Thursday she sees the same things on the president's new budget that she's seen for the past three years since she's been in Washington – more tax and spend.
The Tennessee congresswoman, who is on the House Budget and the Ways and Means Committees, told Newsmax TV that she agrees with the entitlement reforms the budget calls for, but thinks there should be more involved to restore the nation's economy.
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The new budget has brought criticism from both sides of the aisle, after coming in late and calling for tax increases. However, some of the calls for entitlement cuts are positive, many Republicans believe.
“We see a little break there in looking at entitlement reform — and I know people kind of get upset when we talk about entitlement reform, but that is the word that is used for Social Security, the Medicare and the Medicaid programs — and we don't see any real basic fundamental reform,” said Black.
She said the provisions concerning entitlement programs go a little way in the direction she and other Republicans want to head, but she is disappointed that a stronger look is not being taken at structural changes in the programs.
Meanwhile, Black responded to news of a Gallup Poll that said more Americans trust Democrats than Republicans when it comes to the budget.
“I don’t think we’re doing a very good job in getting the message out there about the significance of where we’re going with our budget and the fact that if we don’t straighten things out, our future generations are going to be left with a big credit card,” Black said.
“This is not about just balancing the numbers at the bottom of the page. This is about caring about what we leave for future generations and also for taking care of those that we’re looking at right now.”
With unemployment hovering at 7.5 to 8 percent, the country has a “crushing burden of debt that just keeps mounting and mounting,” said Black, whose district covers much of Middle Tennessee including many Nashville suburbs.
“That's something that is so irresponsible, what's happening here in Washington, and we see that the president is leading us still in that direction: More spending, trying to take more money out of the economy to put into wasteful government programs.”
Without immediate changes in Social Security and Medicare, Black believes, future generations could be left with nothing.
“We do want to do fundamental tax reform where we have a fairer, flatter and simpler system where we can leave more money in the economy so that more jobs can be created and have upward mobility for every segment and sector of our population,” she said.
But Black said lawmakers know Social Security is more sustainable than Medicare, which will go “bankrupt in 2023 unless we do something about it and so it does beg for something to be done more immediately.”
Social Security can take more time, though, said Black, through “maybe raising the age, giving opportunities for those that are in the work force to stay there longer, not begin collecting their Social Security earlier.”
Meanwhile, the age of retirement has more effect on Social Security than it does with Medicare. With every $1 a beneficiary puts into the program, $2 in care is taken out, so the government needs to find a way to make the system more sound.
“Of course we have a premium support program,” said Black. “It is a guaranteed support program for seniors, doesn’t affect anybody 55 and older. It does affect those 54 and younger, giving them an opportunity to be able to prepare for their future,” she said. “But it is a guaranteed government program, premium support, just like people have with their current employer programs. So it makes sense, it puts the patient in charge for them to be able to make decision and choices about what they want, whether it’s a simple decent program or whether it’s a Cadillac program, that’s a choice that they get to make.”
Meanwhile, Black believes spending cuts need to be made to balance the nation's budget. “We are spending way outside of what we bring in,” she said. “You can also do more revenue by having pro-growth tax reform, where you actually lower the rates and you give an opportunity for more money to be out there in the private sector.”
She does not believe, though, like former Speaker Newt Gingrich, that lawmakers' priority should not be to balance the budget.
“It is something that I believe that we must do, states are required to do it,” she said. “I believe that it’s a very bad message to put out there to our children that you can just run up those deficits in your own households on credit cards as much as you want because it doesn’t make a difference.”
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