Senator Shaheen today spoke at a press conference hosted by the Aerospace Industries Association about the need for a long-term, comprehensive deal that avoids the automatic cuts that will take effect if Congress does not act before January.
Below are Shaheen's remarks, as prepared for delivery.
Thank you for initiative taken by AIA to raise attention to impact of sequester through Dr. Fuller’s report.
We’re here today to discuss the automatic cuts that are scheduled for January under the Budget Control Act. Commonly referred to as the sequester.
Nobody thinks the sequester is the best way to reduce our deficit. The sequester is clearly the wrong approach to reducing the deficit.
On the defense side, this will mean reduced support for critical programs and installations needed to meet the threats of today, and delayed investment in the next-generation technologies and platforms that will ensure our future security.
On the non-defense side, 100,000 children would lose places in Head Start and 25,000 teachers would lose their jobs, according to OMB. Critical technology and medical research would be dramatically cut back. The Federal Aviation Administration, responsible for air travel safety, would pare down its operations. Food safety inspections would be curtailed. Border security agents would face lay-offs.
This is to say nothing of the impact this will have on state and local governments, which handle the backbone of government services for many people. I’m glad we have Mayors Stanton and Sanders here today to talk about that.
The sequester was designed to pressure Congress into taking action on our deficits and debt. And backing away from those tough choices isn’t going to solve the problem. We should, instead, do what we promised. But the answer is not defense vs. domestic, the answer is grand bargain. We should pass a long-term deficit solution that includes reforms to all areas of spending – domestic, mandatory, and defense – as well as greater revenues.
Today’s report by Dr. Stephen Fuller tells us why.
According to Dr. Fuller, the impact on our economy from the non-defense sequester would be just as great as the impact from the defense sequester. The impact on jobs is almost equal, with both sequesters triggering over a million jobs lost each in that first year, over 2 million nationally, a combined 6,300 of them in New Hampshire.
We have a road map in front of us for how to do it. It’s the recommendations of the president’s fiscal commission, which was headed by former Republican Senator Alan Simpson and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, a Democrat. That’s the framework we should be discussing.
Simpson-Bowles made it clear that both domestic and defense spending will have to be examined closely for places where reductions can be made over time in a way that will not harm the economy or national security. And Simpson-Bowles made it clear that revenues must also be addressed.
We now spend more than $1.1 trillion a year on tax breaks and other tax expenditures. That’s more than we spend on our national defense. More than we spend on Medicare, or Medicaid. We need comprehensive tax reform.
We can continue to reform a Pentagon bureaucracy that includes over three million employees at over 5,000 locations worldwide. Watchdog groups have said that a consolidation of the military medical command alone could save up to $460 million a year. The Pentagon – which still cannot complete an audit – needs better fiscal controls. We should cut unneeded programs, such as MEADS, an air defense system the Pentagon is paying a half-billion dollars to develop even though it never plans to use it.
On the domestic side, we can do more to cut obsolete or duplicated programs. I personally have proposed several reforms, including reductions to the farmers’ crop insurance program so we’re not giving unlimited help to large farms that don’t need it. I’ve proposed a 20 percent cut to the federal government’s vehicle budget, which has ballooned in recent years. I’ve supported cuts for outdated, unnecessary subsidies for gold and silver mining companies, and tax breaks for big oil companies. There is no shortage of ideas for cutting waste, and all should be considered. The sequester would deny us that opportunity.
We cannot continue to avoid tough decisions on the future of our debt and deficit. We should continue to work on a comprehensive solution that puts everything on the table. It’s the right thing to do for our national security, for our economy, and for our people.
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