Congressman Adam Smith (WA-9), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement following President Obama’s presentation of a new budget framework:
"America must prioritize deficit reduction and get back on the road to responsible spending. To achieve this, we need to start an honest conversation about the stark numbers we face in tackling our massive debt and deficits.
"Last week, Rep. Paul Ryan introduced an FY 2012 budget proposal based on smoke-and-mirrors assumptions of the past: Ryan’s plan shrinks revenue by cutting taxes for the highest earners, slashes assistance for working class Americans, fails to address defense spending, and assumes an unprecedented unemployment level below 4%.
"Today, the President offered an alternative fiscal plan. I was happy to see the Administration placing more aspects of federal spending on the table, and ensuring that high-earners pay their fair share. However, it is clear the discussion has not gone far enough. While I applaud President Obama and Rep. Ryan for signaling the start of an open discussion about the budget, the American people need to hear specifics about the stark numbers we face in reconciling the money we spend with the amount we take in.
"The math is unrelenting: The U.S. spent $3.5 trillion last year, while taking in only $2.2 trillion in revenue, resulting in a $1.3 trillion dollar deficit in 2010. Balancing our budget immediately would mean a 33% reduction in spending, including massive cuts to entitlements and the defense budget that could destabilize job creation, economic recovery, and national security.
"Going forward, we must focus on two major strategic points. First, every piece of the budget should be scrutinized for possible cuts. As Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I recognize that a comprehensive approach to reducing the debt includes examining defense spending.
"Second, we are not realistically going to be able to balance the federal budget this year or next without catastrophic effects on the economy. We can and must implement a plan to gradually reduce the deficit, moving us in the direction of responsibly balancing our spending and revenue.
"Given the size and scope of our fiscal problem, an honest conversation is necessary to produce a realistic path to fixing our budget and creating jobs without jeopardizing America’s economic recovery."