The Select Committee on debt reduction should be cutting $4 trillion in federal deficit spending, not the minimum $1.2 trillion called for under the debt ceiling agreement, according to House Republican Conference Secretary John Carter (R-TX).
"All we have to do is look at what's happening this very day in Greece and Italy to see precisely where the U.S. is headed unless we get serious and make real spending cuts," says Carter. "$1.2 trillion is just reducing the rate of growth, not actually reducing spending."
Carter has called on the Committee to cut $4 trillion in deficit spending by reforming entitlement programs and raising an additional $250 billion in revenues by broadening the tax base and reforming the tax code.
"It is past time to stop playing class-warfare games on our need for lower spending and higher federal revenue," says Carter. "Instead of penalizing small business, we should broaden the base by first restoring jobs, simplifying the code, and making sure that everyone pays something. Right now we have nearly half the country paying nothing in income taxes, when we instead need to reinforce the fact that the whole country is in this bind together. Ironically, if we let the Bush cuts expire, we will have raised taxes on low income families by 50%, the highest bracket increase of all income groups."
If the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire as scheduled on December 31, 2012, the nation will experience an automatic $3.7 trillion tax increase. Carter has offered to support revenue increases up to $250 billion in exchange for making the Bush cuts permanent.
Carter, the only member of House Republican Leadership to have voted against both the Bush TARP funds and the Obama Stimulus, says the nation now has to simply stop the spending to avoid economic catastrophe. Carter says reforms to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid must be on the table for the Select Committee on Debt to have any chance of producing a debt plan that can pass the House.
Carter signed onto a letter to the Committee by 100 House Members from both parties insisting that every possible means of reducing the deficit be examined, including entitlement spending, if the Committee hopes to succeed.
"We must make cuts in existing spending across-the-board, we must find ways to increase revenues, and to achieve that this committee has to be willing to examine every option," says Carter. "For conservatives, we have to be willing to look at any reasonable proposal to increase revenues, while liberals must be willing to look at major savings from entitlements, which they have always placed off-limits."
"I remain opposed to outright tax increases, as lack of taxes is not our problem. But if we can reform the current tax structure and deductions to the satisfaction of my district and increase revenue in the process, I'm willing to look at that before saying no. In exchange we open up entitlements to the first reform in decades, because that's where we have to find the big savings to offset long-term fiscal imbalance."
Carter says he reserves his support of any final bill pending details, but to allow automatic spending cuts to occur for lack of an agreement would be a major economic blow to Central Texas and America's national security. "Failure to produce a bill means a cut of 30% or more in troops at Fort Hood as a result of the automatic Defense cuts. And that means the entire nation is more at risk from a lack of adequate troop levels and weapons-systems improvements, and our 31st District of Texas will see a major economic decline. We simply have to give this Committee every incentive to produce a bill that can gain bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, while not sacrificing any conservative principle."