U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement today concerning President Bush’s FY 2006 Budget:
“President Bush’s FY 2006 Budget is another example of lost opportunity and fiscal irresponsibility. The budget that President Bush is proposing today is a farce and is purposely misleading the American people. By not including in this budget expected costs for continued military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, $2 trillion dollars in expected funds for Social Security reform or the costs of making permanent his first-term tax cuts, Bush is using smoke and mirror tactics in claiming that this budget is bare bones and fiscally responsible. This budget adds more than $4 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years. As a matter of fact, the federal deficit is projected to reach a record $427 billion this year alone.
The budget also has its priorities all wrong. For example, his budget cuts funding for the The Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS program, which provides grants for state and local agencies to hire police officers. The COPS program, in the President’s budget, would be cut by $480 million, and his budget slashes funding for local firefighters by $215 million, cuts of 80 percent and 30 percent, respectively.
In addition to the cuts to the COPS program and firefighters, in the budget for 2006, discretionary spending -- meaning other than entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare -- would rise just 2.1 percent, lower than the expected rate of inflation. Within that category, extra money would go to defense and homeland security, leaving most other discretionary programs frozen or falling.
Along with sub-standard increases in needed discretionary funding, the proposed budget does not adequately address the needs of the servicemen and women in our military. Also, given the current strain on our military, the President’s budget only provides a bare minimum pay raise of 3.1 percent. It does not provide targeted pay raises to the troops who we most need to retain: senior enlisted personnel and junior and warrant officers. The budget raises health care costs for hundreds of veterans, imposing new co-payments on prescription drugs and enrollment fees that will cost veterans hundreds of millions of dollars. Callously, the President’s budget does not contain funding to increase the death gratuity for the families of those killed in service to our nation. Although funding may be included in the upcoming supplemental request, those funds will only cover fiscal year 2005. Our efforts overseas will not end with the fiscal year on September 30, 2005—why should this important funding? Finally, this budget puts off a decision to permanently increase the end-strength of the Army and Marine Corps – at a time when we are engaged around the world and our military is stretched thin.
Finally, as a Member of the House Armed Services Committee and someone who cares deeply about making sure the Pentagon leverages technology, I’m committed to making sure our servicemembers have the best and most advanced equipment in the world. I’ll work to protect R&D and technology funds at the Pentagon so that we maintain technological superiority.
In addition to not fully funding the critical needs of our military, the President’s budget does not go far enough in cutting corporate farm subsides. It is well past-time that we started to eliminate corporate farm subsidies in this country. Farm subsidies are fiscally irresponsible and that’s why I voted against the bloated farm bill. Not only do they hurt our trade relations with other countries, but they stunt sustainable development efforts overseas. Corporate farm subsidies are the worst form of government handouts and that is why I am introducing legislation to create bipartisan commissions to identify wasteful government programs and subsidies, and recommend them for elimination. The Program Reform Commission Act and the Corporate Subsidy Reform Commission Act would urge Congress to promptly consider legislation that would implement the Commissions’ findings and recommendations.
This is a time when we need to be truly fiscally responsible and put everything on the table, including the President’s tax cuts for the very wealthy. The Republicans control the House, the Senate and the White House, yet they can’t control their spending. As Members of Congress, we need to lay out a reasonable plan with the right priorities to get us back on track to a balanced and fiscally responsible budget."