Watch the comments here.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to speak in support of Mr. Moulton’s amendment. I think this is a good example of what I was talking about in my opening statement, about us making choices and the size of the budget that we have.
Now, I enjoyed Mr. Turner’s comment where we go back in history again and somehow imagine that this is all President Obama’s fault. I guess everything’s President Obama’s fault, and that’s the easiest way to think of the world. But sequestration was passed with bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate, and—I’m sorry I just have to bring up—the reason we did it is because the Republican-controlled House was refusing to raise the debt ceiling. So we were literally three days away from basically failing to meet our obligations. Now, I did not vote for the Budget Control Act, but I will not criticize anyone who did when the choice, basically, was between that and, basically, stop paying our bills.
So, I tried in my opening remarks not to engage in that sort of partisan argument. And I think we’d all be better off if we recognize that the Budget Control Act was the result of bipartisan failings, and not try to re-litigate whose fault it was. It’s a problem. It was created bipartisanly and continues to be a bipartisan problem. I will also say that it isn’t really the only problem. And that’s what I was trying to say in the opening remarks.
Let’s say we get rid of the Budget Control Act. It’s gone. We still don’t just magically have trillions of dollars. We still have a $20 trillion debt. We still have a $706 billion deficit. And I’m pretty sure that between that side and this side over here, it’s the folks on this side here who are most adamant about the fact that we need to balance the budget.
So, even if we get rid of the Budget Control Act, we do not have $600, $700, $800, $900 billion to spend on defense unless we pretty much completely eliminate all non-defense discretionary spending, which there isn’t support for doing.
So, what I’m trying to get us to wake up to is that we have to confront this larger choice, instead of just—“If we just got rid of the Budget Control Act, we’d have all the money we wanted, we could spend it all on defense, and everything would be good.”
Now I know there’s talk that we could do something about mandatory programs, although the enthusiasm for doing something on mandatory programs is limited. As I understand it, the Chairwoman of the Budget Committee proposed, as part of giving us this $621 billion, a $50 billion cut in mandatory spending, which the chairmen of the various committees that would have to implement that all balked at. $50 billion.
$20 trillion in debt, a $706 billion deficit, trying to find $50 billion in mandatory savings, and the majority can’t even do that, all right?
So it is a much larger problem than just saying, “By gum, we’ve just got to get rid of the Budget Control Act and then we’ll be able to spend all the money we want on defense.” Okay? We’ve got to look at revenue. We’ve got to look at mandatory. We’ve got to look at all that stuff, so we actually create a budget that has money in it so we can pay for the things that we’re talking about.
Which brings me to this, okay. LCS is a very controversial program. I don’t personally support eliminating it. I think Mr. Wittman made some good arguments for why the LCS is important. But as Mr. Moulton pointed out, we’re not getting rid of it.
The President, well, he put one in the budget, and then after the budget was submitted—and I had a quote on this, which I won’t repeat—all of a sudden they said, “We want two.” And then you asked, “Where are you going to get the money?” And they said, “Meeeahhh!” And then eventually they just found it somewhere.
In our mark, we put three. Now, is it better to have three LCS in the abstract? Sure. But we’re making choices. And I compliment Mr. Moulton for offering up what I think is a better choice in terms of where we should spend our money.
And if this is what we do in this Committee, if every time we try to cut anything—and I won’t even get into the BRAC discussion—if every time we try to find savings anywhere, there’s some good—“No, no, no, we have to have that! We have to have that ship; that plane; this number of troops.” It doesn’t. Add. Up.
At some point, we in this Committee, if we are committed to supporting the military that we keep claiming we’re committed to, we’ve got to make a choice to cut something.
I keep asking the question—as we heard about all the money that is coming in—to the Pentagon people: “Where in the Pentagon are we spending money that we shouldn’t? And, yes, the answer I got: “Well, you know, we’d have to go back and take a look at it. We’d have to think about it. We’d have to …” Have to think about it? I mean, what the hell? You know, we’re way under to fund this stuff, and you aren’t even thinking about where to find savings to get us there?
So this is a small piece, and I realize I just took Mr. Moulton’s modest little amendment and blew it up into a much larger argument, but I think it is an excellent example of the decisions that we are going to have to make as a Committee if we’re going to fund the military we want.
If we want to fund readiness, take two LCS instead of three. I think this is a—you know—if we can’t do one tiny little thing, then we’re going to be in a lot of trouble in terms of funding the priorities that the Chairman very rightly outlined. So I urge support to the amendment and I yield back.