Published April 1995 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Tax Favors vs. Deficit Reduction
During recent consideration of the 1995 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill, the Senate approved my amendment — by a vote of 99 to 0 — to direct all the savings from spending cuts in the bill toward deficit reduction, a requirement that prevents the savings from being used to finance other spending programs or political tax favors.
The Supplemental Bill contains billions of dollars in spending cuts for a broad range of federal programs.
For example, the bill pares funding for agricultural programs, public housing, foreign aid, and airport improvements.
While I cannot agree with all of the rescissions, they are the kinds of painful choices that will be required if we are going to make a serious attempt to cut the budget deficits.
After the recent weeks of nationally televised handwringing and teeth-gnashing by members of Congress over the need to balance the federal budget, one would have expected these federal spending cuts to have been directed toward deficit reduction.
Instead, the original version of the Senate bill left these savings unfettered by such a restriction, allowing them to be redirected toward other federal spending programs or toward offsetting the cost of proposed tax cuts, the lion's share of which, according to the U.S. Treasury Department, will benefit the wealthiest Americans.
It was to correct that glaring error that I offered, and the Senate adopted, my amendment.
However, even as the Senate was embroiled in the final hours of debate on the Supplemental Bill, the House passed a massive tax cut giveaway, which will cost $189 billion over five years and approximately $700 billion over ten years in lost revenues. That cut would irresponsibly add to the $1.2 trillion in spending cuts already needed over the next seven years to bring the budget into balance.
This persistent movement to squander budget savings on tax cuts for the well-to-do and for big corporations is just plain crazy.
Voting for tax cuts is popular. It is an easy vote. But this is not the time for popular, easy votes. This is the time for leadership, for fiscal constraint, and for taking the difficult steps required to reduce the budget deficits.
April 12, 1995