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Joseph Lieberman on Budget & Economy

Democratic Jr Senator (CT), ran for V.P. with Gore, ran for president 2004


Fact Check: Implies economy not growing-really it grew 8.2%

FACTCHECK on Economic Growth: Joe Lieberman implied that the economy isn't growing under Bush:

LIEBERMAN: We can get the economy going again. We need a Democratic president to make it happen.

FACTCHECK: In fact, the economy grew at the unexpectedly rapid annual rate of 8.2% in the third quarter (June, July and August) according to the latest official figures from the Department of Commerce. That was the best quarterly growth in 20 years.

Source: FactCheck.org: 2004 Primary Presidential Debate in Durham NH Dec 9, 2003

7.2% GDP growth isn't a recovery without job creation

Q: What do you say about the 7.2% GDP growth?

A: Until middle class Americans and those working hard to get into the middle class get their jobs back, the 3.5 million that they lost under Bush; until they begin to be able to afford their health insurance or get it back--2 million lost their health insurance under Bush; until they have some sense of ability to send their kids to college without coming out with an enormous burden of debt, then we don't have an economic recovery.

Source: CNN "Rock The Vote" Democratic Debate Nov 5, 2003

Prosperity won’t go on automatically; don’t change horses

Q: No poll has any separation of more than 3%. Why?

A: I think it’s because, as the election gets clearer, people are saying to themselves: Hey, the times have really been good, eight years we’ve gone from the biggest deficits to biggest surpluses, 22 million new jobs, and a good stock market. Why change horses here in mid-stream? Let’s keep going in the same direction. I think that’s going to move people to Al Gore.

Q: Why is it close? Shouldn’t your ticket be way ahead?

A: I think it’s just because a lot of people maybe have thought that the prosperity goes on automatically. It doesn’t. If Al Gore is elected, we are going to continue to have surpluses in the federal government, which is the most important thing the federal government can do. Honestly, an American Academy of Actuaries said last week, under George Bush’s economic plan, we are going to go back into annual deficits, won’t pay off the long-term debt, high interest rates, high unemployment, not where we want to go.

Source: Larry King Live, reported on CNN.com Nov 1, 2000

Democratic administration balanced budget and created growth

“Over the last eight years, we have come to understand that when government balances its books, it not only stops draining capital out of the markets, it creates a sense of confidence, and that is one of the conditions for growth. We’ve gone from the largest deficits, now to the largest surpluses. The administration said, ‘We’re going to get serious about coming out of debt; here’s our budget proposals.’ It passed without a single Republican vote; Al Gore had to break the tie in the Senate.”
Source: Richard Perez-Pena, NY Times Oct 21, 2000

$300 billion reserve fund to be insurance policy for surplus

Q: The surplus is not guaranteed, so how will you pay for your programs?

LIEBERMAN: We’re not spending any more than is projected by the experts. In fact, unlike our opponents, we’re setting aside $300 billion in a reserve fund just in case those projections the nonpartisan experts make are not quite right. We understand that balancing the budget, keeping America out of debt is the way to keep interest rates down and the economy growing.

CHENEY: With respect to the surplus, we’ve got to make some kind of forecast. We can’t make 12 month decisions in this business. We’re talking about the kinds of fundamental changes in programs and government that are going to affect people’s lives for the next 25 or 30 years. And one of the difficulties we have is that for the last eight years, we ignored a lot these problems. We haven’t moved aggressively on Social Security. There are important issues out there that need to be resolved, and it’s important for us to get on with that business.

Source: Vice-Presidential debate Oct 5, 2000

Expensive tax cut for rich will lead to high interest rates

Q: What will you do with the surplus?

A: The estimates that Dick referred to are the estimates of the Republican staff of the Senate Budget Committee. We use the numbers of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. We agree that the surplus in the Social Security fund should be locked up. We believe that the surplus in the Medicare fund should be locked up. They raid the Medicare trust to pay for their tax cut. Let me come back to the remaining $1.8 trillion. The numbers show that $1.6 trillion goes to that big tax cut which sends 43% to the top 1%. But when you add on the other spending programs that our opponents have committed to, plus the cost of their plan to privatize Social Security, they are $1.1 trillion in debt. And that means we go back to higher interest rates, to higher unemployment, to a kind of stealth tax increase on every American family, because when interest rates go up, so too do the cost of mortgage payments, car payments, credit card transactions.

Source: Vice-Presidential debate Oct 5, 2000

Now: tap Strategic Reserve; long-term: develop 80 mpg cars

Q: What is your energy policy?

A: Vice President Gore and I have a long-term strategy. If this administration had been given the funding it requested from Congress, we’d be further along: developing cleaner sources of energy; giving tax credits to use energy more efficiently; creating a new generation of vehicles that can get 80 miles per gallon. We also have a short-term strategy to deal with ups and downs of energy prices. I know it was controversial, but we believed it was important to reach into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, put it in the market, show the big oil companies and the OPEC oil-producing countries that we’ve got some resources with which we can fight back. We’re not just going to lay back and let them roll over our economy. And we did it also because gasoline prices were rising and home heating inventories were real low. Since the reserve was opened, the price of oil has dropped $6 a barrel.

Source: Vice-Presidential debate Oct 5, 2000

New economy will thrive on investment and trained workers

“America cannot afford to have a president in the 21st century who doesn’t understand the terrain of the new economy. We as a nation cannot afford to make Barney Rubble investments in a George Jetson world. Our goal as a nation and a people must be to help them help themselves. All of us appreciate the vital role immigrants have played and continue to play in America. But America shouldn’t have to go overseas to find trained workers. We should train our own people right here.”
Source: AP Story, NY Times Aug 29, 2000

Democrats will expand prosperity, GOP will “squander” it

We want to use America’s hard-earned success to preserve the future of Social Security and Medicare, to pay off our national debt, and cut the taxes of middle class families. We want to make the investments that will keep our economy moving forward. It’s this simple: We Democrats will expand the prosperity. They will squander it.
Source: Speech to the Democrat Convention Aug 16, 2000

Fund R&D; cut capital gains tax; ban Internet tax

Source: Lieberman’s Senate.gov web site Aug 7, 2000

Priorities are debt reduction and balanced budget

Lieberman has worked diligently to bring a more fiscally responsible philosophy to the Democratic party. His economic priorities are to maintain US economic growth through national debt reduction and a balanced budget and to expand economic opportunity for low-income Americans.
Source: Senate web site, “Issues Focus: Budget & Economy” Aug 7, 2000

Private sector is the primary engine of economic growth

As a New Democrat, Lieberman believes the private sector - not government - is the primary engine of economic growth. The government’s role, in his view, is to promote growth and equip Americans to succeed in the private sector. The economic boom of the 1990s demonstrated that the keys to economic prosperity are raising productivity, reducing government borrowing, and expanding private sector job growth. Lieberman urges Congress to apply all on-budget surpluses toward national debt reduction.
Source: Senate web site, “Issues Focus: Budget & Economy” Aug 7, 2000

Booming economy from private sector plus government help

We New Democrats believe that the booming economy of the 1990s resulted more from private sector innovation, investment, & hard work than from government actions, but the federal government sure can and did help. The Clinton-Gore administration deserves tremendous credit for their leadership in the 1993 balanced budget proposal, and the NAFTA & GATT agreements that followed. I believe strongly that both these policies shaped the economic environment in which we have enjoyed such unprecedented growth.
Source: Excerpt from “In Praise of Public Life”, p.132 May 2, 2000

Biennial budget makes sense, allows better review

The biennial budget bill “makes eminent sense,” Lieberman said, “for it streamlines what has increasingly become a chaotic and inefficient budget process.” Lieberman is an original co-sponsor of the biennial budget plan. The proposal would convert the annual budget, appropriations, and authorization process to a two-year cycle. “Congress has done a poor job of passing its annual budget in the last few years,” Lieberman said. “Biennial budgets will force us to be more thoughtful and less erratic.”
Source: Press Release, “Biennial Budget” Mar 4, 1999

Voted NO on paying down federal debt by rating programs' effectiveness.

Amendment intends to pay down the Federal debt and eliminate government waste by reducing spending on programs rated ineffective by the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART).

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

My amendment says we are going to take about $18 billion as a strong signal from the Congress that we want to support effective programs and we want the taxpayer dollars spent in a responsible way. My amendment doesn't take all of the $88 billion for the programs found by PART, realizing there may be points in time when another program is not meeting its goals and needs more money. So that flexibility is allowed in this particular amendment. It doesn't target any specific program. Almost worse than being rated ineffective, we have programs out there that have made absolutely no effort at all to measure their results. I believe these are the worst offenders. In the following years, I hope Congress will look at those programs to create accountability.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

The effect of this amendment will simply be to cut domestic discretionary spending $18 billion. Understand the programs that have been identified in the PART program are results not proven. Here are programs affected: Border Patrol, Coast Guard search and rescue, high-intensity drug trafficking areas, LIHEAP, rural education, child abuse prevention, and treatment. If there is a problem in those programs, they ought to be fixed. We ought not to be cutting Border Patrol, Coast Guard search and rescue, high-intensity drug trafficking areas, LIHEAP, rural education, and the rest. I urge a "no" vote.

Reference: Allard Amendment; Bill S.Amdt.491 on S.Con.Res.21 ; vote number 2007-090 on Mar 22, 2007

Voted NO on $40B in reduced federal overall spending.

Vote to pass a bill that reduces federal spending by $40 billion over five years by decreasing the amount of funds spent on Medicaid, Medicare, agriculture, employee pensions, conservation, and student loans. The bill also provides a down-payment toward hurricane recovery and reconstruction costs.
Reference: Work, Marriage, and Family Promotion Reconciliation Act; Bill S. 1932 ; vote number 2005-363 on Dec 21, 2005

Voted NO on prioritizing national debt reduction below tax cuts.

Vote to table [kill] an amendment that would increase the amount of the budget that would be used to reduce the national debt by $75 billion over 5 year. The debt reduction would be offset by reducing the tax cut in the budget framework from $150 billion
Reference: Bill S Con Res 101 ; vote number 2000-55 on Apr 5, 2000

Voted YES on 1998 GOP budget.

Approval of the 1998 GOP Budget which would cut spending and taxes.
Status: CR Agreed to Y)78; N)22
Reference: H. Con. Res. 84 as amended; Bill H. Con. Res. 84 ; vote number 1997-92 on May 23, 1997

Voted NO on Balanced-budget constitutional amendment.

Approval of the balanced-budget constitutional amendment.
Status: Joint Resolution Defeated Y)66; N)34
Reference: S. J. Res. 1; Bill S. J. Res. 1 ; vote number 1997-24 on Mar 4, 1997

Balance debt reduction, tax relief, & policy investment.

Lieberman signed the Senate New Democrat Coalition letter to Pres.-Elect Bush:

Dear President-Elect Bush,

Members of the Senate New Democrat Coalition and the House New Democrat Coalition are interested in working with you to develop a responsible fiscal policy. We are proud of our records of fiscal discipline that have helped to produce the unprecedented surpluses for our country. We believe that continuing to use part of the surplus to pay down our national debt is a moral obligation that we owe to future generations. As New Democrats, we believe that a delicate balance can be struck between maintaining fiscal discipline, paying down our national debt, responding to the public’s understandable desire for common-sense tax relief and making important investments in our future. We are convinced that your stated goal of providing an excessive tax cut will lead to less debt reduction. This in turn would lead to higher interest rates resulting in lower capital investment and productivity growth and ultimately a lower standard of living for all Americans. We are ready, however, to work with you on a smaller package of tax cuts designed specifically to stimulate our slowing economy in the short run while protecting Social Security and Medicare. In the longer term we are eager to work with you on a policy that encourages individual savings and investment, invests in college education tax credits, promotes research and development and bridges the technology gap that exists in our country today.

Source: Senate New Democrat Coalition letter to Pres.-Elect Bush 01-SNDC2 on Jan 11, 2001

Reform mortgage rules to prevent foreclosure & bankruptcy.

Lieberman co-sponsored reforming mortgage rules to prevent foreclosure & bankruptcy

Source: Foreclosure Prevention Act (S.2636) 2008-S2636 on Feb 13, 2008

Other candidates on Budget & Economy: Joseph Lieberman on other issues:
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Page last updated: Jul 15, 2008