Alexander: Two Year Budget Agreement Supports National Defense, National Laboratories, National Parks, National Institutes of Health

Posted on July 25, 2019

“We should consider a plan like the Fiscal Sustainability Act, which Sen. Corker and I introduced, to reduce the growth of entitlement spending by nearly $1 trillion over 10 years. The problem was that Senator Corker and I were the only cosponsors.” – Senator Lamar Alexander

The above chart above illustrates all federal spending over the last 10 years and the projected spending for the next 10 years. Discretionary spending (blue line), is under control. Mandatory spending (red line), is causing out-of-control federal debt.

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2019 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today urged his Senate colleagues to support the two year budget agreement announced by President Trump and congressional leaders, saying that it increases spending for our national defense, national laboratories, national parks and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which “is not the part of the federal budget that is driving our $22 trillion federal debt.”

“On Monday, President Trump and congressional leaders announced a two year budget agreement that provides strong support for our military and increases funding for domestic priorities, including scientific research at our 17 national laboratories and the National Institutes of Health,” Alexander said. “There has been a lot of chest beating about how this budget agreement adds to the deficit, and it is appropriate to be concerned about the deficit. But, what's inappropriate is blaming our $22 trillion national debt on funding for our defense, national parks and national laboratories. The problem is mandatory spending on entitlements, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.”   

Alexander continued, “What this new two year agreement does is important. First, it suspends the debt limit – the amount that the United States can borrow – in order to avoid a global financial crisis. Second, it raises the defense and non-defense discretionary budget caps—or the amount of money that the appropriations committee can spend on our national defense, our veterans, national laboratories, biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health, and national parks.

“Discretionary spending – which is what Congress approves every year in the 12 appropriations bills – is only 31 percent of all money the federal government spent last year. This type of spending is under control. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), discretionary spending has risen at about the rate of inflation the past 10 years, and is projected to continue to rise at about the rate of inflation over the next 10 years. The real driver of our out-of-control federal debt is mandatory or entitlement spending—which is Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and interest. As spending on mandatory entitlements and interest grow, there will be less money for national defense, national laboratories, and the National Institutes of Health. According to the Congressional Budget Office, over the next ten years, mandatory spending, including the interest on the debt, will increase from 69 percent of total federal spending to 78 percent while discretionary spending will decrease from 31 percent of total federal spending to about 22 percent. Congress cannot balance the budget with cuts to discretionary spending. We should consider a plan like the Fiscal Sustainability Act, which Sen. Corker and I introduced, to reduce the growth of entitlement spending by nearly $1 trillion over 10 years. The problem was that Senator Corker and I were the only cosponsors,” Alexander concluded.

You can read a full transcript of Alexander’s prepared remarks here.

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