Rep. Richard Hudson
March 19, 2014
I know everyone is probably as disappointed as I am to see Carolina Panthers’ Wide Receiver Steve Smith part ways with the organization. He gave all of us 13 exciting years of passion and dedication and he will be greatly missed.
A big reason why we all have to suffer through this loss is that the organization was forced to make tough choices regarding its budget and salary cap. As you all know, after years of reckless spending by the Obama Administration, this is an essential and challenging task in Washington as well.
Unfortunately, this critical commitment to fiscal responsibility has become nothing more than an afterthought among Washington Democrats. Recently, President Obama presented his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2015 to Congress, which was nothing more than a partisan political document that seeks to divide people in order to distract from his failed policies like Obamacare.
It’s no surprise though — President Obama’s budget proposals are rarely taken seriously. In fact, the last budget he sent to Congress did not earn a single vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate. However, as many have said before — budgets are statements of values and priorities. After a close look at President Obama’s priorities, we have plenty to be worried about.
The president’s budget asks for hundreds of billions in new government spending and over a trillion in new taxes. We’ve tried this time and time again under this Administration, and what do we have to show for it? The latest jobs report released last week confirmed that the number of people who are active in the labor force is still the lowest it has been since the 1970s and the percentage of Americans who have been looking for work for more than six months has doubled since 2007. This is both a human and economic catastrophe, and we can and must do better.
Beyond the obvious glaring problems contained in the President’s proposal though, there were plenty of deeply troubling details as well. One that caught my eye and that of several of my colleagues was the proposed deactivation of the 440th Airlift Wing at Pope Army Airfield. The 440th is absolutely critical to conducting the type of training that both Airborne and Special Operations Forces located at “the epicenter of the universe,” Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, rely on to conduct the high risk missions they’re charged with in combat. Beyond the immediate hit on readiness, the retirement will have a direct impact of over 1,200 service members and their families directly associated with the unit, which will be devastating to North Carolina’s local economy. This cut to our armed forces is as shortsighted as it is naïve.
I understand that we face challenging fiscal times, but I expect the Department to take a broad approach when it comes to finding savings. While retiring a particular airframe may make sense on paper, it is incredibly important to take into account the value of a joint force structure and the potentially dangerous consequences that could come from its elimination. One way our Defense Department could be a better partner in our budgetary process would be to get their own fiscal house in order by conducting a full scale audit at the Pentagon, a serious task that I am pushing along with my colleagues on the House Armed Services Committee.
The Obama Administration’s hands-off approach to foreign policy over the past several years has left a vacuum of global leadership and undoubtedly made the world a more dangerous place. Cutting Ft. Bragg’s airborne operations by an estimated 23 percent could further erode our readiness at a time when the United States simply cannot afford it. This week, I look forward to traveling the district and seeing our military priorities and strength first-hand as I tour Camp Mackall and visit with veterans across North Carolina. These heroes are so critical to keeping our country great, and they do not deserve to be pawns in the president’s political games.
It’s past time that President Obama stops campaigning and begins governing seriously. His budget proposal is just the latest chapter of a presidency defined by broken promises, failed policies, and divisive politics. The American people deserve better and I stand ready to work with the president when he is ready for a serious dialogue about the challenges we face.