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Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, yesterday the Senate voted on the tax bill compromise that was fashioned by the President and Republican leaders in the Congress.
I voted against the compromise.
I recognize that the Republicans in Congress put the President in the position of having to agree to things in the compromise that he strongly objected to. And I also realize that compromise is essential to move forward and to try to fix what is wrong with our economy.
But here is the dilemma. We have two very serious problems that can undermine America's economic future. First is the crushing debt in our fiscal policy. Our debt is currently over $13 trillion with a yearly deficit of over $1 trillion. This proposal will substantially increase that debt which I believe will continue to undermine the confidence people have in this country's future.
The estimate that this agreement will increase the debt by over $1 trillion is far short of what will actually happen. The tax cut extensions are for 2 years and I am certain that in 2 years, in the middle of an election campaign, the tax cuts will be further extended. The total cost of those tax cuts for a decade will be to add $4 trillion to the Federal debt. Again, I think that will undermine any confidence the American people or, for that matter, others in the world will have about our ability to rein in a fiscal policy that has us borrowing 40 percent of everything we spend in the Federal Government.
The second serious problem that we face is the slow rate of economic growth that is unlikely to create jobs at a pace that we need. I understand that in order to address this problem we would want to have a further economic stimulus to extend the growth of the economy. However, this economy has been about as stimulated as any economy in history. Adding more stimulus through borrowing seems to me is not the way to promote confidence or economic growth.
Earlier in the week I voted for cloture because I did not want to block a compromise on these matters. However, the specific compromise which we voted on yesterday I believe falls short of what the country needs, especially in dealing with what I believe is the controlling issue of a crushing Federal debt and therefore an erosion of confidence in our economy.
The fact that this agreement was flawed was not the President's fault. Rather, it was due to the position of the Republicans insisting on the extension of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Without that concession, the Republicans made it clear they were going to block any compromise.
If our country is going to remain a world economic power we need to make good decisions and courageous decisions to fix the things we know are wrong. In order to do that, the President is going to need help. It requires more willingness to compromise on the part of the Republicans than they have shown recently.
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