Lankford Talks Booming Economy, President’s 2020 Budget with Treasury Secretary

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today questioned Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the Senate Committee on Finance hearing on the President’s 2020 budget request for the Department of the Treasury. Lankford addressed the booming US economy and its impact on our nation’s ability to invest in our growth and the US tax receipts into the Treasury. Lankford also discussed the processes of government shutdowns and debt ceiling hikes and the costs associated with governing through gridlock.

Lankford continues to work to end government shutdowns, which cost taxpayers billions of dollars, with his bipartisan Prevent Government Shutdowns Act. The Prevent Government Shutdowns Act holds Members of Congress accountable and protects taxpayers by keeping Members and their staffs in DC until the work to fund the government is complete. In 2019, Lankford was recognized as one of the top 10 most conservative members of the Senate for his record of addressing the national debt and deficit.


On US economic growth and its positive impact on the Treasury

Senator Lankford: Mr. Secretary, thanks for being here. Thanks for the insight you bring to this. Obviously, we’ll go through the President’s budget proposal, as every President’s budget proposal comes to Capitol Hill, gets reviewed and then gets set aside. It’s a set of ideas, and we’ll go through it, but there are a lot of good ideas. This is well, and I appreciate the hard work that goes into it.

I will be interested to see how history looks at this economy, 25, 30, 50 years from now. We look back at the Reagan economy and the Clinton economy and to see the growth that’s happening. I’m watching some pretty remarkable growth happening in this economy since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

What you have overseen from the Treasury right now, if I’m looking at this correctly, during the previous Administration there were 3,600 manufacturing job losses. During this Administration, we’re gaining 12,300 gains in manufacturing alone during that time period so It’s a pretty dramatic turnaround. Beginning in March 2018, 21 consecutive months that there are more job openings in America than there are people looking for jobs in America. That’s pretty remarkable. And for the last 16 consecutive months, we’ve had hourly earnings for folks who receive hourly pay at three percent or higher every single month. That’s a pretty remarkable economy that’s happening right now so thanks for all your work, because you put a lot of work into this to be able to go through the process.

On government shutdowns and debt ceiling hikes

(1:25-2:44) Lankford: I’ve done a lot of work as many members of this committee have on ending government shutdowns, on trying to get away from long-term CRs and to try to get a solution on the debt-ceiling. Those are three things that hang out there, so while we talk about budget issues that always seems to be a part of the conversation there. Can you put an estimate on the financial cost on government shutdowns, on the cost for long-term CRs and if there are alternate solutions for dealing with debt ceilings.

Secretary Mnuchin: I don’t have the specific cost of those but I will tell you they are quite costly, particularly the CRs and have a very significant cost on the Department of Defense and their long term planning. There’s no question that’s a significant issue there. I would also just comment, I do share your concern about the debt ceiling.

Lankford: We’ve done 80 of those in the last 50 or so years.

Mnuchin: I think that everybody would agree we cannot ever get to a point where we would default on the US government debt I would encourage Congress to think about a process that when we approve spending we simultaneously approve the necessary borrowing.

Lankford: When you interact with your peers around the world on how they handle debt ceilings, what is their conversation with you about how their government handles it?

Mnuchin: Most people do not have debt ceilings the way we do.