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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said the budget plays a critical role in today's economy and it is time to produce one that is fiscally responsible.

Enzi, a new member of the Senate Budget Committee, attended his first hearing of the committee today to discuss the state of the economy, the President's economic plan and how to build a budget that will provide real-world incentives for growth and investment.

"While we're tromping on corporations for their bad accounting, we really ought to be embarrassed by the way federal government does its accounting," said Enzi. "The long term health of our economy depends on developing a plan that will encourage small business development, job creation, health care modernization and fiscal responsibility."

Testifying at the hearing today was Chief Global Economist for Bear Stearns & Co., Inc., David Malpass; Executive Vice President of the National Association of Manufacturers and Chairman of the Asbestos Alliance, Michael E. Baroody; and former National Economic Advisor and Director of the National Economic Council, Gene B. Sperling.

Enzi said the committee will continue to examine the President's economic plan during a series of hearing scheduled through next week. Witnesses for those hearings include: Jan. 30, Acting Director of the Congressional Budget Office, Barry B. Anderson; Feb. 4, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Dr. Glen Hubbard; and Feb. 5; Director of the Office of Management and Budget, The Honorable Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr.

Budget Committee Chairman, Don Nickles, R-Okla., welcomed Enzi to the committee. Prior to today's hearing Nickles said Enzi will be valuable in helping the committee advance its agenda.

"I am delighted Senator Enzi agreed to join the Budget Committee team. Setting, and sticking to, a budget is tough for families, for businesses and for the federal government. We have many challenges this year - funding the war on terrorism, growing the economy, and looking out for other priorities such as education and providing a prescription drugs benefit for seniors. But I am confident this committee, with the leadership of Senator Enzi, can advance a positive agenda and restore integrity to the federal budget process," Nickles said.