WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Betty McCollum today questioned why tax increases and further spending cuts aren’t being seriously considered as ways to address budget problems, saying she believes “everything should be on the table.”
McCollum’s comments came during the first of what will be many House Budget Committee hearings on the Fiscal 2011 budget.
The Obama administration has called for a freeze in non-security discretionary spending, though many House Democrats like McCollum and Appropriations Chairman David Obey have said every department — Defense and Homeland Security included — should be evaluated line by line in order to keep funds available for programs that address economic hardship.
“I was in the suburban part of my district, in White Bear Lake, and let me tell you folks, the Bear is looking a little skinny,” McCollum said, before telling Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag about food security issues in the town.
She spoke of people who used to volunteer at a food pantry having become dependent on using it, and she noted the circumstances of a construction worker who helped build the new Interstate 35W bridge but is now out of a job and worried about unemployment running out and losing his house.
“To me, this is not foolish spending. It is not us saying, ‘You’re on your own, society.’ This is us coming together to help in a time of need,” McCollum said of those spending provisions.
She then lobbed Orszag a softball question, asking what the administration is doing on jobs, and what would happen if their plans — like the stimulus law or a future jobs bill — weren’t enacted.
Orszag mentioned the president’s jobs plans, which include wage subsidies to cover the cost of new hires and the elimination of the capital gains tax on small businesses, before saying that the administration is shifting some stimulus dollars it doesn’t think are working as well to areas that are. He didn’t elaborate on exactly where those shifts were ongoing.
“More needs to be done, and that’s why we’re stepping forward,” Orszag said.