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Statement of Michael B. Enzi
Senate Budget Committee Hearing:
The President’s Fiscal Year 2008 Budget Proposal
February 7, 2007

I would like to begin by thanking Budget Committee Chairman Conrad for holding this hearing today.  I also want to thank Director Portman for taking the time to testify before this Committee.

As an accountant, fiscal matters fascinate me so I’m probably one of the few people who genuinely look forward every year to reading the President’s budget.  I view the President’s budget submission as his fiscal blueprint for our nation.  It is a good starting point to kick-off congressional discussion about the fiscal year 2008 budget resolution. 

As we begin this debate over FY 2008 spending, I want to encourage everyone who is interested in this process to remember that the document that we are talking about today is the first step in a lengthy process.  Although it is important to take the President’s proposal into consideration, it is Congress that ultimately controls the purse strings.  The final appropriations or authorizing language may look remarkably different from President’s language discussed today.

I wholeheartedly agree with the President’s top three priorities in this budget – keeping the economy strong, spending taxpayer dollars wisely and combating terrorism and protecting the homeland.  I am particularly pleased to see that the President is committed to balancing the budget by 2012.  If we do not start controlling spending today, we will be leaving a fiscal crisis to our children and grandchildren.  As most members of this Committee realize, any attempts to control spending must include entitlement spending reform.  Accelerated spending for the nation’s largest entitlement programs is beginning to overwhelm our economy’s ability to pay for those benefits as the Baby Boom Generation starts to retire.  Therefore, I am pleased that the President is engaging in the discussion of entitlement reform through his many proposals in this budget.

I also want to encourage members of Congress as well as the Administration to always be looking for new ideas and new ways to solve our fiscal challenges.  Our nation is facing a major economic challenge and everyone involved needs to be thinking of innovative ideas on how to deal with this issue.  We can find a way to balance the budget while continuing to invest in domestic priorities. 

Many elements of the President’s budget reflect a commitment to the creation of new and innovative energy technologies.  Specifically, I am pleased that the budget reflects a desire on the Administration’s behalf to implement Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 by requesting the authority to grant up to $9 billion in federal loan guarantees.  It is my hope that the Administration will provide a portion of the guarantee authority to help finance the construction of coal-to-liquids facilities, and specifically, coal-to-liquids facilities in the State of Wyoming .   Coal-to-liquids is a proven technology that will help lessen the need for imported oil by providing an efficient and clean transportation fuel. 

Coal is our nation’s greatest domestic energy source, and Wyoming produces approximately one-third of all coal produced in our nation.  In any quest for energy independence, there is no question that coal must have an essential role. 

Finally, I would like to mention my continued support for the adoption of biennial budgeting as well as giving the President Constitutional line-item veto authority.  I am delighted that the President once again included these two proposals in his annual budget request.

Thank you again, Director Portman for your testimony today.  I fully recognize and appreciate the hard work you and your staff must go through to get this budget ready for distribution.