Good morning. As you know, we're working in Washington to try to balance the budget. But we're working on two very different approaches. I want to balance the budget because if it's done right, it will help us to restore the American dream and to keep America the strongest nation in the world. It will help to improve our economy, create jobs, raise incomes, and take debt off our children.
That's why we've worked so hard in our administration to bring the deficit down from $290 billion a year when I took office to $160 billion this year, to expand our exports, and to increase investment in education. That's helped to give us 7 1/2 million new jobs, a record number of new small businesses. And just last week, the Census Bureau announced that the poverty rate has dropped in America for the first time in 5 years, as more families are sticking together and doing better.
Still, we all know that many working families are finding it harder than ever to live the American dream. And that's why we have to do even more to ensure opportunity for all working people, to grow the middle class and to shrink our under class. Above all, as we balance the Federal budget, we must make sure we don't make it harder for people to educate their children, care for their parents, strengthen their families. That would defeat the very purpose of balancing the budget.
Yet that's exactly what the budget proposals of the Republican majority in Congress would do. At a time when we're growing the middle class, they would make it harder for poor people to work their way into the middle class. They'd even kick a lot of American families out of the middle class and hurt families, for many of their so-called cuts are in fact hidden direct and indirect tax increases.
The congressional leadership says they want to cut taxes. Well, I do, too. I think we should have a tax cut targeted at working families to help them with childrearing and to permit families to deduct the cost of college education. But we can do that without the back-door tax increases on millions of American families the Republican leaders claim to be cutting taxes on.
You see, buried deep within their plan is a vast collection of tax increases and other costs on working people, $148 billion worth of direct and indirect hidden taxes that hit working families in America hard. Some will claim these tax hikes aren't really taxes. They'll search the dictionary to find every possible way to avoid using that "T" word. Well, in Washington they may not call it a tax increase, but when the Government makes a working family pay more, it sure feels like a tax to them.
Here are the facts. You can decide for yourself. We want parents to care for their children. But under the Republican plan, single mothers struggling to preserve their families will have to pay $4 billion in fees for the Government's help in collecting child support they're legally due. That's a tax hike on responsible mothers and their children which will lower their already modest incomes.
The elderly, who have a right to expect that we will do our duty to them so they can live their lives in dignity, will be asked to pay thousands of dollars more per couple in extra premiums, extra copayments, extra deductibles for Medicare over the next 7 years. People who are old and sick and poor, regardless of how hard they've worked in their lives, will have to pay $10 billion more for their Medicare because the Republican budget proposes to repeal the extra help now given to the elderly poor with their Medicare bills. Experts say up to a million seniors could be driven out of Medicare.
And the Republican Congress proposes to do away with the law that now prevents States from forcing seniors whose spouses have to go into nursing homes to sell their cars, their homes, even empty their bank accounts before their husbands and wives can get the Government help for the care they need.
Young people and their families who are seeking to secure America's promise of opportunity could wind up paying thousands of dollars more in additional fees and interest to get student loans. That's a tax hike on middle class families and students that we can't afford for our future.
Most unbelievably of all, 17 million working families who seek to share in the American dream will have to pay $42 billion more in income taxes through reductions in the earnedincome tax credit for working families. In 1993, I worked hard to expand this working family tax credit so that we in America could say that anybody who works full-time with children in their homes will not be in poverty. Now what the Congress wants to do is to roll back that working families' tax credit in a way that will impose a tax increase averaging $500 a family on families least able to pay it. This is a tax hike that literally will push many working families back into poverty.
All told, there are about $148 billion of these hidden taxes and fees. They represent a cynical assault on America's values by targeting working families, the elderly, poor people who work hard at their jobs, mothers seeking child support, young people struggling their way through college. These are the very people we should be helping. I want to reward responsibility, not punish it; to increase opportunity, not shrink it; to strengthen our families, not weaken them. That's why my budget plan includes none of these new taxes.
The taxes imposed by the Republican budget are deceptive and unfair. I urge Congress to defeat them. We don't need to raise taxes on working people and lower their incomes to balance the budget. We have enough income inequality in America as it is.
I've proposed a balanced budget that reflects our fundamental values, that eliminates the deficit without undermining education or weakening our environment or violating our commitments to working families, seniors, and poor children. It secures Medicare and the Trust Fund without imposing big new costs on seniors, threatening their independence, or destroying their dignity. And it gives a tax cut targeted to education and childrearing, the very things that working families need. And they're helping the very working families who are hit with the tax increases under the Republican budget.
I'm deeply committed to balancing the Federal budget. But we have to do it in a way that is consistent with our values and our vision for our future, to give our people the chance to make the most of their own lives, to strengthen our families and protect our children and honor our parents, to grow the middle class and shrink the under class, and to preserve our Nation as the world's strongest. Let's all keep those values fixed firmly in our sight in the weeks ahead as we work toward a balanced budget that advances the American dream.
Thanks for listening.