I was disappointed last Friday to see House Democrats united against a balanced budget amendment (BBA). American families sit down at their kitchen tables and balance their checkbooks and bank accounts to make sure they live within their means. The federal government should do the same. Friday was an unfortunate missed opportunity by Democrats to sit at the table with Republicans to create a better environment for job growth through reduced spending and a balanced budget.
This summer I strongly advocated that any deal to raise our nation’s debt ceiling include a vote on a balanced budget amendment. Working with the Whip Team, it was our responsibility to find a strong BBA that has the teeth to rein in spending and can be passed in the House. We fulfilled that pledge. The fact that the President and House Democrats overwhelming opposed this legislation should not be surprising when you consider the series of failed economic policies passed under Democrat leadership.
Just as I remain committed to continuing to work with my conservative House colleagues to pass a balanced budget, I also remain committed to ensuring our nation’s budget is not balanced on the back of our men and women in uniform, veterans and their families. A robust national security is vital to our country’s economic security. Nowhere is this truer than in South Mississippi where our multi-billion dollar military industry is a pillar of our economy and way of life. Recently, the military culture and economy that reverberates through all sectors of South Mississippi has become the target of massive and unsustainable budget cuts.
The U.S. military is the guardian of our increasingly globalized economy. The military protects the realms where business occurs and prosperity is born, including ocean ports, the skies, space and even cyberspace. The downgrading of our credit rating rattled our economic standing in the world, but further defense cuts would have severe economic costs beyond what America has previously endured.
While defense spending only accounts for 20 percent of our federal budget, defense has already endured the lion’s share of spending cuts. During a time when we need to be reinvesting in our military, the Department of Defense is planning on budget reductions over the next ten years of more than $450 billion – a difficult, yet manageable task.
Unless serious action is taken to prevent sequestration by the “super committee,” DoD will sustain an additional $500 billion in cuts over the next ten years bringing the total to nearly $1 trillion. As Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta described in his letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee, cuts under maximum sequestration would… “reduce the size of the military sharply.” He estimated that after ten years we would have the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest number of ships since 1915, and the smallest Air Force in its history.
As a Marine Gulf War Veteran, a Sergeant in the Army National Guard and a Member of House Armed Services Committee, I am fighting day and night to avoid one single penny in additional cuts to defense. Our South Mississippi economy as well as the economy and defense of our nation depend on it. During the budget debate, my message is to focus on the real drivers of our debt and not the defender of our prosperity.