Guest Column: Competing priorities
by Congressman David Cicilline
Some political observers have suggested that Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and the House Republican caucus demonstrated courage with their most recent budget proposal. I disagree.
There is no doubt that we need to restore fiscal responsibility in Washington, D.C. – on this point, nearly all of my Republican and Democratic colleagues agree. Where we disagree is on whether cuts in federal spending need to come at the expense of important investments in our economic growth.
With Rhode Island’s share of the economic recovery still struggling to take hold, the House Republican budget proposes substantial cuts in education and workforce training, including $166 billion in cuts from student loans and Pell Grants over ten years. This isn’t courageous, and it’s wrong at a time when so many require retraining to develop the skills necessary to find work.
Rhode Islanders need a budget plan that will bolster job creation, strengthen our economic recovery, and support the middle class – not one that undermines the middle class, threatens our vital safety net, and instead provides greater tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and corporations that are shipping American jobs overseas.
During debate on the House floor, I voted in favor of the Democratic budget alternative authored by Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). The Democratic alternative would maintain vital, job-creating investments in our highways, bridges, and transit systems, along with investing in an initiative to help rebuild and modernize our public schools and improve the quality of education, helping to put more Rhode Islanders back to work immediately.
House Republican leaders believe our ship of state can’t make it through this current storm without throwing a few of our senior citizens, young people, and working families overboard so Big Oil, the special interests, and corporations that ship jobs overseas can make it through unscathed.
I believe that true courage rests in asking everyone to pay their fair share, keeping the promises we have made to our seniors, and strengthening a middle class that is built to succeed in the 21st century economy. I am proud to continue fighting for these values.