Transcript: Super Committee co-chair Rep. Jeb Hensarling’s opening statement on discretionary spending & deficit reduction
Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction Hearing on Discretionary Spending, Security & Non-Security on Oct. 26, 2011
Transcript of Opening Statement by Committee Co-Chair Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX):
“Well, I thank the co-chair for yielding and want to thank her again for her leadership on this committee and the spirit of negotiation that she brings.
“There’s no such thing as an unimportant hearing when it comes to dealing with our nation’s structural debt crisis. Certainly within our nation’s discretionary budget are contained with many challenges and, frankly, many priorities that have to be debated and negotiated. Not the least of which is – what many of us view – as the number one function of our federal government and that is to protect us from all enemies foreign and domestic and specifically our nation defense budget which continues to shrink as a percentage of our economy, shrink as a percentage of our budget as we continue to live in a dangerous world.
“When I look at the totality of our discretionary budget, I do, again, find some common ground with my co-chair. Again, although there is no such thing as an unimportant hearing or unimportant section of the budget, in many respects, today we may be debating the pennies, nickels, and dimes in a debt crisis that is demanding half-dollars and dollar bills.
“There has been huge run-ups in our discretionary spending since the president has come to office. This is not the forum to debate the policies, but I think the numbers speak for themselves. Without the stimulus program, the Commerce Department has increased from ’08 to ’10 102.9%. Without the stimulus, EPA has increased 35.7%. Subtracting the stimulus, Housing and Urban Development increased 22.2%. State Department, without the stimulus, up 132.2%. And the list goes on. Again, it’s not at this forum to debate the particulars of these policies, but it is important to note the numbers that when these particular budgets are growing, the family budgets, which pays for the federal budget, has unfortunately contracted. And it is the family budget that has to pay for the federal budget.
“As an order of magnitude, we know that the discretionary spending of our nation is about 40% and shrinking, and our entitlement spending is roughly 60% of the budget and growing. We know outside of the interest payments on our national debt that our mandatory spending is principally driven by our health care and retirement programs that are simultaneously starting to disserve their beneficiaries and driving the nation broke as they grow 5%, 6%, and 7% a year where unfortunately our nation over the last few years have actually seen negative economic growth. So to put this in an even larger context, under the Budget Control Act, we collectively have a goal – a goal of $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions, but we have a duty – a duty to provide recommendations in legislative language that will significantly improve the short-term and long-term fiscal imbalance of the federal government.
“Thus, the challenge before us remains that we must find quality health care solutions, quality retirement security solutions for our nation at a cost that does not compromise our national security, does not compromise job growth and our economy, and does not mortgage our children’s future. Everything else we do, including dealing with the discretionary budget, will be helpful. Nothing else will solve the structural debt crisis or allow this committee to meet its statutory duty – only these reforms.
“So prudent stewardship of our discretionary budget is going to be helpful. It alone cannot solve the crisis. It continues though to be an important matter.”
- Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction
- cspan.org: “Super Committee” hears from CBO director
- Rep. Jeb Hensarling’s official website
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Super Committee co-chair Rep. Patty Murray’s opening statement on discretionary spending & deficit reduction
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: CBO director Doug Elmendorf’s testimony on discretionary spending before the Super Committee
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