January 2, 2013
"I voted against the fiscal cliff deal because it left too much uncertainty for government programs, lacked a realistic path towards deficit reduction, and fell short in providing necessary revenues to effectively move towards fiscal responsibility.
"The legislation leaves far too much uncertainty on government spending. Sequestration still looms, it was simply delayed two months, and the debt ceiling was not addressed. As the Ranking Member on the Armed Services Committee, I am concerned that our Department of Defense once again faces a situation where they do not know how much money they will have to spend, and the very real possibility of indiscriminate across-the-board cuts just two months from now. I am also concerned that all other areas of discretionary spending--education, transportation, infrastructure, housing, and more--face this same crippling uncertainty. I recognize that defense and other areas of spending will face cuts, but we should be clear on what those cuts will be and they need to be more thoughtful than the blind across-the-board approach of sequestration.
"Second, the deal did nothing to address our long term debt and deficit problems. No grand bargain was reached that could help our economy right now by giving some clear picture of what our ten-year plan is to achieve some measure of fiscal responsibility. I understand that our current situation means that balancing the budget in that ten-year period is not a wise policy decision. But we should at least have something in place that shows we will keep the debt at a manageable level. This bill failed to do that.
"And third, not only did this bill fail to offer that ten-year plan, it made getting to a reasonable ten-year plan far more difficult by making permanent 90 percent of the Bush Tax Cuts. By not allowing those tax cuts to expire, and then making them permanent, we took $3.5 Trillion of revenue off the table. This will lead to one of two results, both of which I am strongly against. Either our debt will climb over 100 percent of GDP or we will have to make devastating cuts in vital programs like Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, education, transportation, and more.
"We face very tough choices right now. Our economy is weak, and our debt is substantial and growing by nearly one trillion dollars a year with no end in sight. There are no easy answers. But continuing to take an approach that delays addressing the fundamental choices we face will only make matters worse."