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Blackburn Talks Spending Reductions, Fiscal Responsibility in Budget Committee Hearing

Location: Washington, DC

States News Service, March 3, 2004
Copyright 2004 States News Service
States News Service

March 3, 2004 Wednesday


BYLINE: States News Service


The office of Rep. Marsha W. Blackburn, R-Tenn., issued the following statement:

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-7 th District) testified before the House Budget Committee during a hearing on the Fiscal Year 2005 budget. Backburn plans to introduce a series of bills that would reduce Federal spending by one percent, two percent or five percent. The reductions would target non-defense, non-homeland security discretionary spending. The following is the text of Blackburn's statement:

The debate over the Federal budget is not simply an argument about numbers. It's a debate about our values, our priorities, and not least our discipline as lawmakers. This is how our constituents view the issue, and it's exactly how we should approach the subject.

Chairman Nussle gets it. His proposal to freeze FY05 non-defense, non-homeland security discretionary spending is a fantastic start. To be quite frank, given our budget situation, I don't see any other responsible option less than a freeze or an actual reduction.

Right now we're talking about a projected deficit of somewhere between $471 and $521 billion this year.

I believe we'd be well served to follow the example of 26 states, including Tennessee, that have enacted across-the-board cuts to get their financial houses in order.

While serving in the Tennessee State Senate, I proposed across the board cuts as the most effective approach to balancing our budget. Newspapers from one end of the state to the other complained that my plan was too simplistic and wouldn't work. Special interests bemoaned the thought of losing even a single cent in spending.

This past year Tennessee enacted cuts to widespread acclaim similar to those I proposed - even a few of those newspapers recognized that perhaps my calls for across the board cuts were on target. Clearly it is possible to make the necessary reductions. Sometimes good ideas, the right idea, require time to take shape - spending reductions are an idea that has had ample time to take shape.

In the spirit of fiscal responsibility and discipline that so many of our states have adopted, and Chairman Nussle is supporting, I will be proposing three bills this year to support the Budget Committee's efforts:

The first bill would require a one percent across the board cut in non-defense, non-homeland security discretionary spending in FY05 and a spending freeze at that level thereafter.

The second, a two percent cut,

And the third is for those of us who believe we can do better - a five percent cut.

These are three options, three choices - all of us should be able to commit to at least some level of reduction. Our objective should be to help speed up the President's goal of reducing the deficit.

If we passed the five percent proposal and froze spending, it would cut $20 billion from the deficit this year alone. Over five years, we'd save $243 billion.

I've found that few phrases in the English language inspire the sort of reaction that 'across the board cuts' does, but we've reached a point where it becomes necessary to be blunt.

Across the board cuts ensure that all entities within the Federal government shoulder the burden of reducing rampant spending and give each agency the opportunity to find within their budgets the spending they can live without. It provides an opportunity for the agencies to walk through a self evaluation process and exercise a little performance-based budgeting and a little zero-based budgeting.

I find it difficult to imagine that there is not at least five percent in government waste that could be cut from each departmental operations. Over the past 12 months the Government Reform Committee has held hearing after hearing in which we investigated hundreds of millions of dollars worth of waste, fraud, and abuse. Too frequently there is little to no serious action to address this drain on taxpayer dollars. An across the board cut would serve two purposes - it would force a better accounting of appropriated funds, and it would strengthen our agencies' oversight of the dollars we send them. In short, it would do much to restore our overall fiscal health.

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