Washington D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith released the following statement today on the debate in Congress about how to reduce the federal debt and deficit:
“Our country faces a long-term, systemic budget dilemma - we don’t collect enough revenue to cover our expenditures. Currently, we must borrow about 40 cents for every dollar the federal government spends. Going forward, we must fix this problem from both ends—spending will have to come down, and we’re going to have to generate new revenues.
“As Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am particularly concerned that further large and indiscriminate cuts to the defense budget could have a substantially negative impact on our military. I am also deeply concerned about cuts to all non-entitlement spending, which bore the brunt of the recent deficit deal. Furthermore, if the super committee fails to reach a deal, then cuts through sequestration will only impose deeper and more dangerous cuts to our military and non-entitlement spending such as infrastructure, education and homeland security.
“Recently, Republican members of the Armed Services committee have been issuing dire warnings about the potential impacts of additional defense budget cuts. I share their concerns, but at the same time my Republican colleagues refuse to consider raising any additional revenue. In order to avoid drastic cuts to our military and other important programs, revenue must be on the table.
“We also cannot just issue dire warnings about the national security impacts of defense cuts. We must develop a comprehensive national security strategy that takes into account current and future funding and rationally appropriates our resources to best meet our challenges.
“I applaud the President and his Administration for undertaking a zero-based review of our defense strategy. A strategic review at this moment is a rational and responsible decision. Our defense strategy should not be driven by arbitrary budget numbers, but by the same token, it would be irresponsible to develop a strategy without considering the available resources.
“We can rationally evaluate our national security strategy, our defense expenditures, and the current set of missions that we ask the military to undertake, and we can come up with a strategy that requires less funding. Spending more does not necessarily improve our national security, spending more wisely does.
“Again, I share the concern with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that large, immediate, across the board cuts to the defense budget may well do damage to our national security. But it is important to understand the reality that we can’t just wish our problems away. I hope my Republican colleagues will recognize that in order to avoid arbitrary cuts to defense and other important programs we must put revenue on the table and we must undergo a comprehensives strategic review to understand how best to spend the defense dollars we have.”