Senate Debate on the Nomination of Jim Nussle to be OMB Director
Prepared Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley
Senate Debate on the Nomination of Jim Nussle
to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
I’m pleased the Senate is considering the nomination of Congressman Jim Nussle to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
I’d like to thank Chairman Lieberman and Ranking Member Collins of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for their quick action on this nomination.
I’d also like to thank Chairman Conrad and Ranking Member Gregg of the Budget Committee for their help in moving Congressman Nussle’s nomination. Finally, I thank the Majority Leader, Senator Reid for making time in the Senate’s hectic schedule for the consideration of this important nomination.
I’ve known Jim Nussle for nearly 27 years. I first met him when, as a student at Luther College, he drove me around the state as I campaigned for my first run for the United States Senate.
He was elected to the U.S. House in 1991, at the age of 30. Congressman Nussle quickly rose through the ranks to chair a Committee and he excelled in that leadership position.
Congressman Nussle and I share a strong belief that we here in Washington hold a great responsibility to be wise stewards of the taxpayer’s money. He took this responsibility very seriously, and acted on it early in his Congressional career.
Few have worked as hard as Congressman Nussle to ferret out wasteful and unnecessary federal spending. If confirmed, I’m certain he’ll continue to be one of the taxpayers best advocates.
As Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Jim Nussle didn't just focus on the short-term goals. He looked down the road at the long-term challenges. An example is the Deficit Reduction Act. With Jim's leadership at the Budget Committee, Congress took an important first step in reforming our entitlement spending. This step saved taxpayers nearly $40 billion over a 5 year period of time.
Jim Nussle also understands that the federal budget process can and needs to be improved. He chaired a bipartisan task force in the late 1990's, and developed a bipartisan initiative - the Comprehensive Budget Process Reform Act in 1998 - with then-Congressman and now Senator, Ben Cardin. In working with then Congressman Cardin, he demonstrated his ability to work across the aisle and develop a bipartisan product.
This respect for the other side continued during his time as Budget Chairman. During the Senate Budget Committee’s hearing to consider his nomination, House Budget Chairman Spratt attested to the respectful manner in which Congressman Nussle handled the committee.
Chairman Spratt spoke to the fair and collegial treatment the minority received while Jim Nussle was Chairman, and to Congressman Nussle’s knowledge of the budget process.
I think it’s Congressman Nussle’s qualifications and respect from all sides that led to the unanimous vote in favor of his nomination by the Homeland Security Committee and the 22-1 vote in the Budget Committee.
Yet, some have chosen to use Congressmen Nussle’s nomination to take issue with the President’s fiscal and economic policies.
I’d point out to my colleagues that while they portray the economy as nothing but doom and gloom, the facts suggest otherwise.
Unemployment remains at historically low levels. Most recently, the unemployment rate stood at 4.6 percent. July was the 47th consecutive month with job gains. Over 8.3 million new jobs have been created during those 47 months.
The fact is, the economy is resilient and growing. We’ve had 23 consecutive quarters of growth in the gross domestic product.
And, contrary to the arguments of some of my colleagues, the budget deficit has been coming down year-by-year. This year’s deficit is estimated to be 1.5 percent of our gross domestic product. This is lower than the 40 year average of 2.4 percent.
The reduction in the deficit is largely due to the higher than anticipated revenues coming into the federal treasury. And, this increase in federal revenues has occurred since the bipartisan tax relief plans of 2001 and 2003 came into effect.
While those on the other side may argue that we’re under taxed, I’d point out that this year’s receipts are projected to be 18.8 percent of GDP. This is higher than the historic norm of 18.3 percent.
So, while Congress and the President acted in a bipartisan way in response to the economic effects of the tech bubble burst and the attacks of September 11th, we are still generating the necessary revenues to operate the federal government at historic levels.
Where would our economy be today if Congress hadn’t enacted this bipartisan economic stimulus? Would our economy have weathered the crash in the NASDAQ or the economic shock of the 9-11 attacks with such resilience? Would we have such low unemployment, strong GDP growth or the creation of over 8 million jobs without the tax relief?
These are fair questions that critics of the President’s economic policies should consider.
Regardless, we’re here today to consider the nomination of Congressman Nussle to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget. However you feel about the President’s economic policies, I think we should all agree that the President has a right to choose his director for the Office and Management and Budget.
Rather than delay and object to consideration of this nominee, I believe it makes more sense to confirm the President’s highly-qualified choice, and get to work finishing the people’s business.
We have a serious challenge ahead of us. With only one of the twelve annual appropriations bills having even been considered by the Senate, we find ourselves less than four weeks away from the end of the fiscal year. In order for this process to get underway in earnest, it’s important that the President have his choice of budget director in place.
Given Congressman Nussle’s experience, knowledge and commitment to public service, it is fitting that he’s been nominated to be the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Jim Nussle is highly-qualified. He knows the budget; he knows Congress; and he is a decent and honorable public servant. I hope the Senate will see fit to confirm Jim Nussle.