Lawmakers of both parties are anxiously awaiting President Obama’s budget proposal, set to be released on February 14. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) thinks the stakes have never been higher.
Addressing the Senate chamber on Monday, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee said Obama’s budget would be a “defining act” in his presidency and his last chance to prove he is sincerely committed to addressing the federal debt crisis.
Sessions argued that the president, having already missed an opportunity to lead the way on deficit reduction during last week’s State of the Union address, must present a budget with “significantly lower spending levels” or else he will lose all credibility as a serious arbiter in the debate. Either way, he said, the American people will know “pretty conclusively” where the president stands on fiscal responsibility.
“Numbers count,” he said. “You can have rhetoric and we can disagree but at some point you have to put out your budget that says what you’re going to do, how much you’re going to spend and where you’re going to get the money, in this case how much you’re going to borrow to carry on the government.”
“We’re going to see whether the president is moving with the America people towards fiscal and economic sanity, or whether or not he will continue his ideological commitment to big government. I think that’s it. I think we’ll know in two weeks. It’s a serious matter.”
Here’s the video:
From the senator’s prepared remarks:
In two weeks, on February 14th, the president will submit a new budget to Congress. This may be his last chance to get this right. For the president to be a credible voice in this debate he must put forward a budget with significantly lower spending levels. He cannot present Congress with the same unserious plan he presented at the State of the Union.
If his budget fails to change course, we will know where the president is. We’re going to see whether the president is moving with the America people towards fiscal and economic sanity, or whether he will continue his ideological commitment to big government.
We need to turn back from the cliff and head down a new road—reducing both the size of the deficit and the size of the government. Not only will such a plan restore confidence in our economy, but it will restore the foundation of America’s prosperity.
Strong, sustained reductions in spending will not be easy. But it is the only responsible course—and the only one that leads to a better financial future for ourselves and for our children.