THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week, Congress began to debate its annual spending bills. The American people expect us to spend their tax dollars wisely, or not at all, and to pursue pro-growth economic policies that will allow us to reduce the deficit while keeping our economy strong.
Since my Administration's tax relief was implemented four years ago, our economy has added more than eight million new jobs, and we've experienced 45 months of uninterrupted job growth. With more Americans working and more businesses thriving, our economy has produced record tax revenues. The Treasury Department recently reported that this year's Federal revenues are up eight percent over last year. As a result, our Nation's budget deficit is about one-third lower than it was at this time last year.
In addition to pursuing pro-growth tax relief, my Administration is working to reduce the Federal deficit through strict fiscal discipline. Over the past three years, we have met the urgent needs of our Nation while holding the growth of annual domestic spending close to one percent -- well below the rate of inflation. I've also proposed policies that would slow the unsustainable growth of our most serious long-term fiscal challenge: entitlement spending. By keeping taxes low and restraining Federal spending, we can meet my plan to have a balanced budget by 2012.
The Democrats in Congress are trying to take us in a different direction. They've passed a budget that would mean higher taxes for American families and job creators, ignore the need for entitlement reform, and pile on hundreds of billions of dollars in new government spending over the next five years. This tax-and-spend approach puts our economic growth and deficit reduction at risk.
For months, I've warned the Democrats in Congress that I will not accept an irresponsible tax-and-spend budget. I put Democratic leaders on notice that I will veto bills with excessive levels of spending. And I am not alone in my opposition. In the House, 147 Republicans have pledged to support fiscal discipline by opposing excessive spending. These 147 members are more than one-third needed to sustain my veto of any bills that spend too much.
Another key area of difference between my Administration and the Democratic leadership in Congress is my support for meaningful earmark reform. Earmarks are spending provisions that are slipped into bills by individual members of Congress, often at the last hour and without discussion or debate. It's not surprising that this leads to unnecessary Federal spending. And the problem is growing. Over the last decade, the number of earmarks has more than tripled.
In January, I proposed reforms that would make the earmark process more transparent, end the practice of concealing earmarks in so-called report language that is never included in legislation, and cut the number and cost of earmarks by at least half. My Administration has also developed the government's first public database of earmarks, and we've posted them on a website: earmarks.omb.gov. On this website, we will also be releasing information on new earmarks, because this Administration wants you to see where your tax dollars are being spent.
After I announced my earmark reforms in January, the House passed a rule that called for full disclosure of earmarks. But in the past few weeks, Democratic House leaders announced that they were abandoning this commitment. Instead of full disclosure, they decided they would not make public any earmarks until after Members had already voted on the spending bills. This change would have allowed a small group of lawmakers and their unelected staff to meet behind closed doors to decide how and where to spend your tax dollars. I'm pleased to report that earlier this week a group of House Republicans stopped this plan and extracted a commitment from House Democrats to list all earmarks in advance and give lawmakers a chance to strike them. The American people need to hold House Democrats accountable for keeping that commitment.
In the weeks ahead, my Administration will continue pushing for earmark reform and holding the line on Federal spending. The American people do not want to return to the days of tax and spend policies. They expect accountability and fiscal discipline in Washington, D.C. And I will use my veto to stop tax increases and runaway spending that threaten the strength of our economy and the prosperity of our people.
Thank you for listening