Washington D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following opening statement at today’s hearing on future of National Defense and the U.S. Military Ten Years After 9/11: Perspectives from Former Service Chiefs and Vice Chiefs:
“I would like to thank the witnesses for appearing here today. We are in a time of significant uncertainty concerning the budget, and the input and advice provided by General Jumper, General Cody, and Lieutenant General Blum will be extremely helpful in understanding the impact of potential cuts on the services.
“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. This problem must be addressed from both ends—spending will have to come down, and we’re going to have to generate new revenues.
“Like many, if not most, of our members here, I share the view that large, immediate cuts to the defense budget would have substantially negative impacts on the ability of the U.S. military to carry out their missions. 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.
“I believe that we can rationally evaluate our national security strategy, our defense expenditures, and the current set of missions we ask the military to undertake and come up with a strategy that requires less funding. We on this committee like to say that strategy should not be driven by arbitrary budget numbers, but by the same token not considering the level of available resources when developing a strategy is irresponsible and leads inevitably to asking our military to undertake jobs for which we do not resource them. We can, I believe, spend smarter and not just more.
“It is also important that we address the revenue side of our budget problem. Recently, some of my colleagues on this committee issued dire warnings about the potential impacts of additional defense budget cuts. I share their concerns, and that is why we must consider raising additional revenue. In order to avoid drastic cuts to our military and other important programs, revenue must be on the table.
“It is my hope that this hearing will help remind everyone here that we have to make some serious choices. Our budget problems must be looked at in a comprehensive manner. If we are serious about not cutting large amounts of funding from the defense budget, something else has to give. Large, immediate, across the board cuts to the defense budget, which would occur under sequestration, would do serious damage to our national security. In order to avoid large cuts to the defense budget, we’re going to have to stop repeating ideological talking points and address our budget problems comprehensively, through smarter spending and new sources of revenue.
“Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing. And thank you to our witnesses for appearing here today.”