Chairman Arrington Delivers Opening Statement at Hearing on Fiscal Commission Legislative Proposals
Chairman Jodey Arrington (R-TX) delivered opening remarks at the House Budget Committee’s hearing to examine several legislative proposals to create a bipartisan fiscal commission.
Watch the full hearing here.
Chairman Arrington’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
I want to thank the Members testifying today for their leadership on what I believe is the most significant challenge facing our nation in the 21st Century – our runaway deficit spending and unsustainable national debt that threatens not only our economy, but our national security, our way of life, and America’s leadership in the world.
I think it’s worth repeating some of the startling statistics regarding the magnitude and explosive growth of our nation’s indebtedness.
- 120% debt to GDP – 200% 30-year outlook
- Annual deficits have doubled just over the last year, reaching a record $2 trillion (borrowing $6 billion per day)
- And CBO projects this number to double in this budget window – adding almost $20 trillion to our national debt – half of which is interest expenses!
- Interest payments are the fastest growing expenditure in the federal budget, reaching almost 3/4 of a trillion dollars last year and projected to be $1 trillion next year.
No responsible leader can look at the rapid deterioration of our balance sheet, CBO’s projections of unsustainable debt and deficit spending, and our long-term unfunded liabilities and not feel compelled to intervene, change course, and prevent a sovereign debt crisis before it’s too late.
As I said from the outset, this is the 21st century challenge for our nation. I believe this is our generation’s World War and the cost of losing this war will be catastrophic and irreparable.
If we don’t have this sense of urgency, if we don’t have a plan, and if we don’t exercise the political courage to execute that plan – we will be the first generation of leaders to fail to leave this country better than we found it for our children.
Let’s be clear: this isn’t a Republican problem or Democrat problem – it’s America’s problem, and it’s a mathematic reality that will require real leadership from both sides of the aisle before it’s too late.
Unfortunately, over the years, too many Americans have become desensitized to trillions of dollars of accumulating debt, and too many lawmakers have been disengaged, with a false sense of security that we can continue down this treacherous fiscal path with no real consequence.
However, the past two years have provided a wakeup call. Record spending resulting in our current cost-of-living crisis, along with a bleak economic outlook and looming recession have provided a rare, acute sensitivity for the American people regarding Washington’s reckless fiscal and monetary policy and its direct impact on their pocketbooks.
As I’ve said before, while our fiscal trajectory is unsustainable, it’s not unfixable. But, both parties have to acknowledge they contributed in some way, and both parties need to come to the table to work on strategies to fix it.
While a commission is not a panacea, it can offer a productive, depoliticized forum for educating the public and identifying consensus solutions for addressing our growing deficits and long-term unfunded liabilities.
The purpose of today’s hearing is to evaluate:
- the various bipartisan proposals for a debt commission,
- various desired outcomes,
- structural designs,
- other provisions meant to address our deficits and long-term unfunded liabilities,
- and finally – identify common themes that can be woven together in a bipartisan, bicameral consensus commission framework that could pass both chambers, be signed by the President, and have a meaningful impact on our current debt trajectory and looming debt crisis.