Washington D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following opening statement at today’s hearing on the potential consequences of defense sequestration:
“I would like to thank the witnesses for appearing here today. We are in a time of significant uncertainty concerning the budget, and the advice provided by the witnesses will be extremely helpful in understanding the impact of potential defense sequestration.
“Our country faces a long-term, systemic budget dilemma - we don’t collect enough revenue to cover our expenditures. According to the House Budget Committee, we currently must borrow about 40 cents for every dollar the federal government spends. If we’re going to fix this problem in the long run and avoid sequestration in the short run, I believe that we must address this 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 caused by sequestration would have dangerous 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, and which also directly or indirectly support the jobs of thousands of American workers. This committee is properly focused today on the impact of the defense budget on jobs, but we also serve a larger body—the American people—and we owe it to them to approach the budget and jobs debates carefully and comprehensively.
“If we can avoid sequestration, 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; indeed the Department of Defense is currently focused on just such an evaluation. Sequestration would make that rational evaluation impossible, which is why it must be avoided. But 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 job losses caused by 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, could do serious damage to our national security. They would also likely result in thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Americans losing their jobs. Sequestration would have a similar impact on American workers in cutting other non-entitlement spending. In order to avoid these large cuts and the resulting job losses, we’re going to have to stop repeating ideological talking points and address our budget problems comprehensively, through smarter spending and enhanced revenue.
“Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing. And thank you to our witnesses for appearing here today.”