U.S. Rep. Adam Smith Thursday compared himself to Ross Perot, minus the billionaire stuff.
He was joking about the line of charts and graphs that he placed on easels in front of Tacoma Rotary 8 members to illustrate his viewpoint on the federal budget problems. A pie chart showed the distribution of federal spending. A bar chart showed how the feds will raise $2.16 trillion and spend $3.4 trillion.
The federal government borrows more than one-third of what it spends, Smith said, yet when asked what specific area of government they would support cutting, a majority of Americans can’t agree on a single area.
“Which gets us to the problem,” Smith said deficit reduction. “If you’re 40 percent out of whack and you don’t want to cut anything and you don’t want to raise taxes you’re not going to get there.”
Smith’s advice for the so-called Super Committee charged with finding $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years is that everything be on the table – savings in entitlement programs, cuts in defense and more revenue.
“Revenue has got to be part of the equation,” he said. But when asked by a Rotarian if he thought the Super Committee, which is co-chaired by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, has a chance of succeeding, Smith said, “probably not.” The reason is that the committee is afflicted with the same politics that nearly brought the U.S. government to a budgetary standstill in August.
“A lot of Republicans still say no revenue increases. Democrats are not as reluctant to put entitlements on the table but they are still very reluctant,” Smith said.
Smith was critical of Starbucks boss Howard Schultz and his campaign to get people to stop giving to members of Congress until a deficit deal is struck.
“That’s brilliant,” he said. “Because now the very small group of people who want to confront the problem aren’t going to participate.” But the extremes who either say no taxes aor no entitlement cuts are still going to be involved, urging their positions on Congress.
“It kind of makes it hard,” Smith said.
Smith also defended the 2009 stimulus plan, saying it was needed to prevent the economic problems of the nation from becoming even worse. America had just gone through eight months when it was shedding 750,000 jobs a month and the economy was in the process of shrinking 6 percent.
“There is an article of faith that none of that worked,” Smith said. “But I can also say that nearly every economist thinks it did work. I know had we not acted we would be in vastly worse condition. I also know from the 2010 election that I lost that argument. I didn’t lose it as badly as some of my Democratic colleagues but I know I lost that argument.”
When Smith started to talk about Howard Schultz the p.a. system was disrupted by a loud hum and buzz. After it stopped, Smith joked; “That’s weird because I was just about to speak ill of Howard Schultz. He has powers that I was not aware of.”