Press Releases

Today, the Bush administration announced that the final federal budget deficit for fiscal year 2002 was $159 billion.  Excluding the Social Security surplus, the deficit exceeded $300 billion.  Just two short years ago, the federal budget had a surplus of over $200 billion.  The turnaround under President Bush represents the largest reversal in over 50 years, and means that the federal government will need to borrow over $2 trillion from the Social Security trust funds over the next decade.  Rep. Adam Smith issued the following statement on the current state of the American economy:  

“While I agree with the president that we must meet our most pressing priorities of protecting our country against terrorism, improving our international relations, and growing our economy and that these needs warrant small, short-term deficit spending, I have serious concerns about the current lack of a responsible economic plan that includes a balanced budget.  While a one or two year small deficit alone won’t jeopardize our future, if we continue down this path of undisciplined spending and unrealistic budgeting, our economy will be in greater trouble.  

“Currently, we face growing budget deficits and a hesitant economy.  Rather than continuing the legacy of fiscal discipline, the 2001 $2 trillion tax cut and the Administration's relentless push for more big tax cuts have destroyed the bipartisan spirit of fiscal restraint that swept through Congress in the 1990s. As a result, demands for additional tax cuts and new spending - especially in the later years of the decade - continue unabated despite the projection of an overall budget deficit, including the Social Security surplus, of $1.6 trillion over the next 10 years.  Restoring fiscal discipline will help return our nation’s economic confidence and trigger a longer economic recovery.  

“War and recession have brought back deficits, but they are not an excuse to undo long-range budget discipline. To get back on track, Congress and the president must have the courage to make the hard, honest choices that are necessary right now to ensure that those deficits will be small and short-term.  With retirement of the baby boom generation approaching, failure to discipline our budget in the coming years will have far reaching ramifications and add crushing new burdens on workers and taxpayers in the following decades.  We must take action now with an honest discussion of the choices we face and develop a budget that is fiscally responsible.”

Rep. Adam Smith has consistently been a strong advocate of fiscal discipline and honesty in federal budgeting.  He believes that a return to sincere and deliberate fiscal discipline must be the cornerstone of our government’s economic policy.  In the 1990s when Wall Street and Main Street saw that the government was serious about keeping its books in order and reducing the national debt, interest rates fell and private investment grew.  Businesses created jobs and all Americans benefited from lower interest rates on their mortgages, student loans and consumer credit.

On Monday November 11, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) will participate in a panel discussion with distinguished members of the Washington state legal community.  Harvard Law Professor Arthur Miller will moderate the discussion presented by the Washington chapter of the American Corporate Counsel Association and the Corporate Law Department Section of the Washington State Bar Association.  

Other participants in the discussion include Dean Rudolph Hasl; Justice Charles Johnson; Professor James Bond; Professor Anita Ramasastry; Paul Lawrence, Esq.; John McKay, Esq.; Dean Joe Knight; and Jany Jacob, Esq.

Members of the media are invited to attend the event free of charge.  For further information on the event go to to http://www.wsba.org/cle/2003/P3-1111.htm or call 1-800-945-WSBA(9722).  To speak with Smith, please contact Katharine Lister at (202) 226-8454.

10:00a.m. – 1:00p.m.  Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) will discuss the impact of September 11 on the American Constitution.  His comments will address the ramifications and implications of The Patriot Act.  
Where: Hilton Seattle 
1301 6th Avenue, Seattle

Last night, Rep. Adam Smith, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, voted to instruct conferees on the Department of Defense authorization bill to agree to Senate language providing full concurrent receipt for veterans.  The Senate approved its version of the defense authorization bill with a provision that would completely eliminate the current offset between military retired pay and VA disability compensation.  The House-passed version included partial repeal of the current, unfair policy.  Unfortunately, some of the president’s senior advisors have pledged to recommend that he veto the defense authorization measure if either of the concurrent receipt provisions are included in the final bill.  This motion to instruct reinforces the House's commitment to veterans and helps jumpstart conference negotiations so that work can be completed on the FY03 DOD authorization bill.  

“Retirement pay is a hard-earned benefit for our veterans and I’m glad that we have sent a strong signal to both conferees and to the White House that we stand with our nation's veterans.  For weeks, the conference committee has been stalled over the issue of concurrent receipt, in part due to the president's veto threat.  It is unfortunate that the authorization bill has not been enacted -- it's good legislation that enjoys a majority of support in both chambers.  We cannot afford to allow the president to play political games with the health and well-being of our servicemen and women and our veterans,” said Smith.  “I believe that all our veterans should be justly compensated for their service and dedication, and I am hopeful that we can reach agreement on concurrent receipt and pass this critically important legislation.  I remain committed to seeing concurrent receipt not only enacted, but fully funded and will do all I can to further its progress.”

In addition to the resolving the concurrent receipt inequity, the Defense Authorization bill greatly improves the quality of life for our men and women in uniform.  The bill provides a 4.1 percent military pay raise, with larger pay increases for mid-grade and senior non-commissioned officers and mid-grade officers, reduces out-of-pocket housing costs for military personnel by increasing housing allowances to cover 92.5 percent of all housing costs and provides $500 million more than the president’s request, for military construction and family housing projects.

Under present law, service-disabled military retirees must surrender a portion of their retired pay if they want to receive the disability compensation to which they are entitled.  Congress enacted this unjust law in 1891, and it affects approximately 550,000 disabled military retirees.  Military retirees are the only federal employees affected by the offset.  For 17 years, legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives to correct this long-standing inequity.  The Retired Pay Restoration Act has received strong bipartisan support in Congress with more than 400 cosponsors in the House and 82 cosponsors in the Senate.  

Earlier this year, the House of Representatives approved the Fiscal Year 2003 budget resolution, which included funding for a partial repeal of the dollar-for-dollar offset of military retired pay and VA disability compensation. On May 9, 2002, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 4546, the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act, which follows the FY 2003 budget resolution and includes a provision to authorize military retirees who are 60 percent or greater disabled to receive their full retired pay and VA disability compensation benefit by Fiscal Year 2007.  

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam Smith has been a strong advocate of full funding for concurrent receipt.  He believes that health care is a critical issue not only for our military retirees and their dependents, but also for those who are considering a career in the military.  Improving the treatment of personnel, retirees and veterans is not only the right thing to do, but is critical to our national security.  If we want to continue leading the world in military power, we must have to have the best Armed Services.

This week Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), joined by Rep. George Gekas (R-Pa.), introduced H.R. 5588, the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act of 2002, to increase penalties on identity theft crimes.   The legislation mirrors S. 2541, introduced by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), which was developed in coordination with the Justice Department to help law enforcement capture and prosecute serious identity thieves. 

“I am very pleased to be introducing this legislation today with Rep. Gekas.  With over 500,000 victims last year alone, identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. One in five American families have been victimized by identity theft,” said Smith.  “Our legislation makes it easier for prosecutors to target those identity thieves who steal an identity for the purpose of committing other serious crimes, including murder and terrorism.”

H.R. 5588 would create a separate crime of “aggravated identity theft” for any person who uses the identity of another person to commit certain serious, federal crimes.  Specifically, the legislation would provide for an additional two-year penalty for any individual convicted of committing one of the following serious federal crimes while using the identity of another person.  This includes stealing another person's identity in order to illegally obtain citizenship in the United States; obtain a passport or visa; commit bank, wire or mail fraud, or steal from employee pension funds; and commit a variety of other serious federal crimes, all of them felonies. 

It would also provide an additional five-year penalty for any individual who uses the stolen identity of another person to commit any one of the enumerated federal terrorism crimes found in Title 18.  These crimes include the destruction of aircraft; assassination or kidnapping of high-level federal officials; bombings; hostage taking and providing material support to terrorist organizations. 

Third, this bill also strengthens the ability of law enforcement to go after identity thieves and prove cases by permitting law enforcement to target individuals who possess the identity documents of another person with the intent to commit a crime.  Current federal law prohibits the transfer or use of false identity documents, but does not specifically ban the possession of those documents with the intent to commit a crime.  H.R. 5588 also increases the maximum penalty for identity theft under current law from three years to five years. 

Fourth, the bill clarifies that the current 25-year maximum sentence for identity theft in facilitation of international terrorism also applies to domestic terrorism. 

Rep. Adam Smith has long been committed to fighting identity theft and has introduced H.R. 5424, which is designed to aid victims of identity theft recover their identities, protect their credit ratings and empower law enforcement with the tools to more effectively track down violators.  That legislation, also introduced with Rep. Gekas, is currently pending before the House Judiciary Committee.

 

Today Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), issued the following statement on the resolution authorizing use of force against Iraq:

“Saddam Hussein cannot be allowed to possess nuclear weapons.  After talking with Middle East experts, listening to my constituents, and hearing testimony from both Bush and Clinton administration officials, this truth is clear to me.  It is so critically important to the future of our world that we must use force if necessary to accomplish that goal.

“Saddam Hussein is not simply an evil dictator.  He is an unpredictable, sociopathic murderer who wants to be the dominant leader of the entire Arab world.  After coming to power, he cemented his rule by accusing of treason and then killing all those who might challenge him.  He executed many of these people personally.  He continues to execute entire families if he even suspects opposition from even one family member.  He used chemical weapons to kill tens of thousands of his own people in suppressing a challenge to his regime.  

“Hussein with nuclear weapons would subject the Iraqi people, the Middle East region, America, and the entire world to an unacceptable level of risk.  While it is unclear how far along he is in developing nuclear weapons, we know he has come close twice before and was thwarted first by Israel and then by America and the U.N. after the Gulf War.  We also know that Hussein is once again trying to develop nuclear weapons.   Although we cannot say for sure that Hussein would join forces with Al Qaeda or other terrorist organizations and help them use weapons of mass destruction against us, there is evidence of links between the two and we must be cognizant of this risk.        

“Some argue that Hussein, even with nuclear weapons, could be contained and is unlikely to use those weapons.  Unfortunately, Hussein has thus far proven a peaceful containment, consisting of sanctions and weapons inspections, to be untenable.    

“He invaded Kuwait even though he knew it would be unacceptable to the international community.  Even after the Gulf War, he had the audacity to challenge America by attempting to assassinate former President Bush.  He further challenged the international community by thwarting the U.N. inspections regime designed to prove Hussein had disarmed.  Saddam Hussein has obviously not been brought to heel and continues to push the envelope. Unfortunately, he has been getting away with it because both the U.N. and the U.S. have failed to act aggressively.

“Ideally, we could stop Hussein from obtaining weapons of mass destruction without war.  However, given Hussein’s history of violence, unpredictability, and animosity towards the United States, we simply must be prepared to use force if necessary.
“I write this even though I fear the consequences of war.  The cost in lives, both American and Iraqi, could be great.  I fear also the reaction of the Muslim world and the international community.  Greater hostility towards the United State will occur.  A post-Hussein Iraq could possibly descend into a bloody tribal war, presenting the region and the world with a new challenge.

“President Bush must do a much better job of making the case for military action, both at home and around the world, than he has thus far.  His rationale for war has bounced all over the map: Iraqi links to Al Qaeda; broken U.N. resolutions; the regional threat Hussein poses; possible threats to the United States; that Hussein ‘tried to kill my dad;’ and the threat of Hussein with weapons of mass destruction.  
 
“I am also troubled that the president has made it more difficult to garner international support by constantly sounding unnecessarily unilateral tones on issues ranging from Iraq to the Kyoto treaty.  His ‘wild west’ language, including his flippant remarks about the Middle East on the golf course, hasn’t allayed international fears that our President wants war with Iraq as a first option.

“He also brought unnecessary controversy into the debate by implying action against Iraq would be part of a new ‘pre-emptive strike’ doctrine.  Regardless of how one feels about a pre-emptive strike, that isn’t what we’re talking about here.  Hussein is in violation of the armistice that allowed him to remain in power after the Gulf War in exchange for disarmament and weapons inspections, and we have the right to enforce that armistice.

“Congressional and public pressure led the president to seek U.N. and international support for action against Hussein, a move I strongly supported.  While that process is currently underway, he is now asking for Congressional approval to use force if necessary in Iraq, which the House of Representatives will vote on this week.

“I will vote in favor of authorizing force against Iraq, because a violent madman like Saddam Hussein possessing nuclear weapons is unacceptable.  Ideally, I would prefer to vote on this resolution after the President has exhausted other options, particularly at the United Nations.  This could take two or three months.  I am disappointed that political leaders - on both sides of the aisle - are rushing through this resolution.  However, the vote is now, and for the reasons outlined, I believe that if force is necessary, force must be used.

“I sincerely hope the president works more effectively with our allies and makes his case more clearly.  It would be far better if the international community came together to disarm Iraq peacefully.  If that cannot be achieved, war - and the costly, complicated job of rebuilding Iraq - is more likely to succeed if the United States has broad international support. 

“As a Member of the House of Representatives, I promise the people I represent that this will not be my final word on the subject.  I will continue to work with the administration and fight for a broad international coalition, commitment to American values throughout the operation, and the best treatment of our military men and women who will be serving this country.”