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Camp Opening Statement at the Organizational Meeting of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction

September 08, 2011

Co-chairmen Hensarling and Murray, fellow members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction,

The problem we face is obvious: there is too much government spending and too much federal debt, which are impeding the economy’s ability to grow.  As a result, too few private sector jobs are being created.  We know it, and the American people know it.  A quick look at the facts shows this Committee has its work cut out for it:

  • There were zero net jobs created in the month of August.
  • Roughly 14 million Americans remain out of work as the unemployment rate continues to hover around nine percent.
  • The total debt for fiscal year 2010 reached $13.6 trillion, or 93.1 percent of Gross Domestic Product, and it’s growing at an astronomical and unsustainable rate.  And by the end of this fiscal year, our debt will exceed our GDP. According to expert testimony before the Bowles-Simpson Debt Commission, this current debt-to-GDP ratio of over 90 percent has already cost the country up to 1 million jobs.

These problems have been decades in the making and happened on both parties’ watch.  Frankly, both parties have also refused to enact many of the necessary and well-known solutions.  Simply put, Washington has overpromised and underperformed. 

As a result, this Committee must make, and then hopefully our colleagues will concur, with the tough decisions needed to find at least $1.5 trillion in debt reduction and take another step towards getting Washington spending under control so our economy can get back on track. 

As I stated when I was named to this committee, the final product must be looked at through the prism of job creation – will the recommendations we make help or hurt job creation now and in the future.  By reducing the burden the federal debt places on employers, families and taxpayers, we can help get the country back on track and Americans back to work.  Comprehensive tax reform would spur economic growth and job creation, and should be a part of our discussions.

The task before us is daunting and not one that lends itself to quick fixes.  I urge my colleagues to be bold and to focus on both the short and long-term impact of our recommendations.  While I am not naive, I am optimistic that we can succeed, and I look forward to working with all of you.

Thank you.