July 23, 2011
For years, the government has spent more money than it takes in. The result is a lot of debt on our nation’s credit card – debt that unless we act will weaken our economy, cause higher interest rates for families, and force us to scale back things like education and Medicare.
Now, folks in Washington like to blame one another for this problem. But the truth is, neither party is blameless. And both parties have a responsibility to do something about it. Every day, families are figuring out how stretch their paychecks – struggling to cut what they can’t afford so they can pay for what’s really important. It’s time for Washington to do the same thing. But for that to happen, it means that Democrats and Republicans have to work together. It means we need to put aside our differences to do what’s right for the country. Everyone is going to have to be willing to compromise. Otherwise, we’ll never get anything done.
That’s why we need a balanced approach to cutting the deficit. We need an approach that goes after waste in the budget and gets rid of pet projects that cost billions of dollars. We need an approach that makes some serious cuts to worthy programs – cuts I wouldn’t make under normal circumstances. And we need an approach that asks everybody to do their part.
So that means, yes, we have to make serious budget cuts; but that it’s not right to ask middle class families to pay more for college before we ask the biggest corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. It means that before we stop funding clean energy, we should ask oil companies and corporate jet owners to give up the tax breaks that other companies don’t get. Before we cut medical research, we should ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries. Before we ask seniors to pay more for Medicare, we should ask the wealthiest taxpayers to give up tax breaks we simply cannot afford under these circumstances.
That’s the heart of this approach: serious cuts, balanced by some new revenues. And it’s been the position of every Democratic and Republican leader who has worked to reduce the deficit, from Bill Clinton to Ronald Reagan. In fact, earlier this week, one of the most conservative members of the Senate, Tom Coburn, announced his support for a balanced, bipartisan plan that shows promise. And then a funny thing happened. He received a round of applause – from a group of Republican and Democratic senators. That’s a rare event in Washington.
So there will be plenty of haggling over the details in the days ahead. But this debate boils down to a simple choice. We can come together for the good of the country and reach a compromise; we can strengthen our economy and leave for our children a more secure future. Or we can issue insults and demands and ultimatums at each another, withdraw to our partisan corners, and achieve nothing. Well, we know the right thing to do. And we know what the American people expect us to do.