Friday, February 26, 2010; A09
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday that "outrageous" advice from former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan helped create record U.S. budget deficits that put national security at risk.
Appearing before Congress to defend the State Department's $52.8 billion budget request for 2011, Clinton said the country's massive foreign debt had sapped U.S. strength around the world.
"It breaks my heart that 10 years ago we had a balanced budget, that we were on the way of paying down the debt of the United States of America," Clinton said. "I served on the budget committee in the Senate, and I remember, as vividly as if it were yesterday, when we had a hearing in which Alan Greenspan came and justified increasing spending and cutting taxes, saying that we didn't really need to pay down the debt -- outrageous in my view."
During Clinton's tenure in the Senate, President George W. Bush authored a massive tax cut while sponsoring a major expansion of the Medicare health program for seniors and spending billions on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Clinton urged lawmakers to tackle the federal budget deficit, which reached a record $1.4 trillion for the fiscal year that ended last September.
"We have to address this deficit and the debt of the United States as a matter of national security, not only as a matter of economics," Clinton said. "I do not like to be in a position where the United States is a debtor nation to the extent that we are."
Having to rely on foreign creditors hit "our ability to protect our security, to manage difficult problems and to show the leadership that we deserve," she said.
"The moment of reckoning cannot be put off forever," she said. "I really honestly wish I could turn the clock back."