April 20, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. – During his opening statement at the first meeting of the Budget Conference Committee today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) urged his colleagues to pursue a more balanced approach to the nation’s budget that relieves sequestration and continues important investments in national security, education, and infrastructure:
“We cannot continue to just ignore this problem…so the question is how do we deal with it,” Senator King said. “There are three basic ways: one is to cut expenditures, the other is to increase revenues, and the third is to grow the economy in order to create more revenues…That was how we got to a balanced budget in the late 90s. The problem I have with the two budgets that have been passed in the House and the Senate is that they focus on only one aspect of the problem – that is they only focus on cuts. We’ve had a worldwide experiment over the past six or seven years with austerity – with cutting as the solution to budget deficits – and it’s been an abject failure…You can look anywhere in the world and the people who have tried to cut their way out of this problem, their economy has gotten worse and often the deficit itself gets worse. So I think cuts are part of the answer, but I don’t think they’re all of the answer. A friend of mine in Maine often says, ‘There’s rarely a silver bullet but there’s often silver buckshot. There are multiple solutions, not just one solution.”
Senator King has been a strong advocate of adopting a more sensible approach to the budget that helps relieve sequestration by striking an appropriate balance between spending reductions and revenue increases.
“The two single greatest economic development projects in the history of the Unites States were the GI bill after World War II and the Interstate Highway System,” Senator King later continued. “Both were investments, both cost money, both required revenues in order to pay for them – and that’s what built the economy that we’ve been riding on since the 50s and 60s. So in this budget, we’re going to cut expenditures for research and development, for education, for job training? That’s madness – that’s where economic growth comes from…We’ve got to find a way out of this, but there isn’t just one path.”
To watch Senator King’s complete opening statement, click HERE.
Last month, he and Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) offered an amendment that would ease the harm sequestration does to national security and other areas like infrastructure and education, which are vital to future economic growth. The amendment, which passed by a bipartisan vote of 50-48, calls for replacing sequester cuts in defense and non-defense accounts with a balanced package of changes in mandatory programs, targeted discretionary cuts, and cuts in tax expenditures. Such a package would be similar to the two-year “Murray-Ryan” sequester replacement deal passed by Congress in 2013. This amendment creates a pathway for legislation addressing the sequester cuts to be considered on the floor.
The Budget Conference Committee, of which Senator King is a member, consists of 30 Senate and House lawmakers and is tasked with reconciling the differences between the two budgets passed by both chambers earlier this year to create the final Congressional spending blueprint.