Frelinghuysen Makes Statement on Budget Control Act8/2/11
Mr. Chairman – I rise in support of the bipartisan, bicameral Budget Control Act.
While imperfect, this is an historic agreement. With this compromise, we are taking an important step in the long and difficult, yet vital, process of forcing our government to live within its means.
Why is this vital? Because total government spending at all levels has risen to 37% of gross domestic product today from 27% in 1960—and is set to reach 50% by 2038.
To sustain the operations of the government, we borrow over 42-cents of every federal dollar we spend. As a result, our national debt has now increased to 100% of the size of our economy today, up from just 42% in 1980.
The implications for future generations of Americans of this dangerous spending spree are obvious. Enough is enough!
While far from perfect, this realistic approach finally begins to turn back the tide of federal red ink in several important ways: 1) it cuts spending by $917 billion and does not raise taxes that would fuel additional spending; 2) it creates a process that keeps our underlying fiscal policy problems front-and-center for the foreseeable future.
The bill we have before us today would extend the debt limit in two phases and avoid a default on the obligations of the United States.
The first phase would provide for $917 billion in discretionary spending cuts and an immediate increase of up to $900 billion in the debt limit.
The legislation would allow for a subsequent debt limit increase of up to $1.5 trillion only if a bipartisan, bicameral committee provides, and the full Congress approves by an “up or down” vote, additional spending cuts in excess of the requested debt limit increase, or a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution is passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification by the end of the year.
Is this bill perfect. Absolutely not.
Granted, some well-meaning Americans have opposed the Budget Control Act because they think it does not cut enough. I would remind my Colleagues that the Committee on Appropriations has already started making tough decisions on spending. In this year’s appropriations bills, we have sheared billions of dollars and imposed strict spending reductions and will complete our work and pass responsible, sustainable, and timely funding legislation.
I completely agree that the Budget Control Act is far from sufficient to solve our underlying budget problems. In that respect, it is a step in the right direction, nothing more.
I, too, wanted deeper spending cuts and greater deficit and debt reduction. However, given the stubborn insistence of the President and his Congressional allies on new taxes and still more spending, I cannot see how we achieve greater savings at this time.
I also fear that we may come to regret proposed cuts to our national security infrastructure. Our Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are already stressed and strained by ten years of multiple deployments. Future reductions in end strength and operations and maintenance will undoubtedly lead to the “hollow force” that our experienced military leaders have warned us to avoid.
Mr. Chairman, I urge my Colleagues to put progress before partisanship and support this measure.
My constituents in New Jersey want our government to live within its means. But they also continue to ask “where are the jobs?” So, they want Congress to make economic growth and private-sector job creation its top priority.
This is about our country, our way of life and restoring confidence in the American Dream. Let’s get on with it.
I yield back the balance of my time.