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Washington, D.C. –The growth in federal spending during the last few years is unsustainable and Congress must actively seek to reduce the budgets of ineffective programs in order to reduce our deficits, U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said today.

“This Congress must slow our rate of spending. The average rate of increased spending for the last six years was 6.9 percent. That is unsustainable. While we must continue to fully support the efforts of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and fund certain domestic priorities, we must take a careful look at areas of spending that are wasteful and unnecessary,” said Enzi. “The deficit emphasizes our need to prioritize spending. It should help us control the urge to start another program, create another agency or make the government more difficult and costly to operate with cumbersome regulations. It should encourage us to look for ineffective programs to reduce or eliminate.”

Enzi, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, spoke at the panel’s first hearing this year. The director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Douglas Holtz-Eakin was on hand to hear committee member perspectives and answer questions.

Enzi said that more can be done to improve the economy and bring in more revenues.

“Like the President’s Economic Jobs and Growth Package last year, we will take steps this year to improve the economy and help balance the budget down the road. A key to balancing the budget is growing the federal pot by encouraging investment and business development,” said Enzi. “Many of our budgetary challenges over the last three years have been the result of lower than average revenues. I noted in the CBO report that revenues are projected to total 15.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year, which is still 2.5 percentage points below the average since 1962. We need to increase the GDP. Although the economy is rebounding, we should continue to facilitate business growth and individual investment while controlling our spending.”

The Budget Committee helps to limit spending by making it harder for members to go beyond the numbers allotted in the budget. The committee sets the broad blueprint for the Congress on the total revenues and spending for the government as a whole. Its deadline for passing the fiscal year 2005 budget is April 15.

President Bush is expected to unveil his budget plan Monday.

Senator Enzi's opening statement follows:

Budget Hearing
Senator Mike Enzi
Opening Statement
January 27, 2004




Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Let me also express my thanks to Director Holtz-Eakin for coming to Capitol Hill on such a cold and snowy day in order to testify on the 10-year budget outlook.

This is an important hearing. It will help lay the foundation for our work on the fiscal year 2005 budget resolution. The report Mr. Holtz-Eakin will be discussing provides a snapshot of our economic position, and sets a benchmark for this year's decisions on fiscal policy. While reading the report is not like looking into a crystal ball, it helps paint a picture of where we are and where we're headed if our spending and legislative policies remain exactly the same over 10 years. Of course, we know that will not happen.

That's why it's important to recognize that these numbers are not set in stone. Like the President's Economic Jobs and Growth Package last year, we will take steps this year to improve the economy and help balance the budget down the road.

The key to balancing the budget is growing the federal pot by encouraging investment and business development. Many of our budgetary challenges over the last three years have been the result of lower than average revenues. I noted in the CBO report that revenues are projected to total 15.8 percent of GDP this year, which is still 2.5 percentage points below the average since 1962. We need to increase the gross domestic product. Although the economy is rebounding, we should continue to facilitate business growth and individual investment while controlling our spending.

This Congress must slow our rate of spending. The average rate of increased spending for the last 6 years was 6.9%. That is unsustainable. While we must continue to fully support the efforts of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and fund certain domestic priorities, we must take a careful look at areas of spending that are wasteful and unnecessary. The deficit emphasizes our need to prioritize spending. It should help us control the urge to start another program, create another agency or make the government more difficult and costly to operate with cumbersome regulations. It should encourage us to look for ineffective programs to reduce or eliminate.

This year's budget will be a challenge. But, the CBO's Budget and Economic Outlook is a good place to start. We have a massive task ahead, and I hope we can count on the Congressional Budget Office to continue providing useful information. I look forward to hearing Director Holtz-Eakin's testimony.

Thank you Mr. Chair.