Challenge and Opportunity: Getting Back in the Black

I am honored to chair the Budget Committee, but realistic. This will be a daunting task, a huge challenge. The unified deficit was $248 billion last year. Our objective is to balance the budget within a reasonable time; but with spending for Iraq and Afghanistan running well over $100 billion this fiscal year, it will not be easy.

I was one of four budget principals in Congress who worked out the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which put the budget in the black for the first time in thirty years. In the year 2000, just before President Bush took office, the budget ran a surplus of $236 billion. That surplus was gone, wiped out, within two years, and the budget has been stuck in deficit ever since.

My aim is to put the budget on track, and back to balance within a reasonable time, but also to balance priorities within the budget. In the Balanced Budget Act, we protected Medicare and Medicaid, expanded student aid, and created the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

In the next Congress, we will work to wipe out the deficit; but while we will have to cut some spending, we will carry forward our fight for the good programs that millions of Americans depend on.