By John M. Willis
U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss warned Gordon County industry and business leaders that the United States is "facing the most predictable fiscal crisis in American history."
Chambliss began a statewide tour of Georgia in Calhoun on Tuesday, touring the Gordon County campus of Georgia Northwestern Technical College and speaking to nearly 200 business and industry leaders. He is scheduled to speak at the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce today.
"These are complex times in our country," he said. "We are facing a fiscal cliff on Dec. 31. If Congress cannot reach an agreement we will see the
largest tax increase in our history as the 2004 tax breaks expire and we are required to find $1.2 trillion in spending cuts."
The cuts are part of the agreement worked out by Congress after the so-called "Super Committee" could not reach an agreement during the last debt crisis.
Half of the cuts will come from the Pentagon budget, which Chambliss said, "will hollow our military in a way that has never been done before."
The next president, whoever it is, will have to come to Congress within 60 days of his inauguration and ask Congress to raise the debt ceiling one more time.
"That will saddle the next generation of Americans with more debt," he said.
Chambliss discussed the bipartisan discussions in the Senate to address the looming debt crisis that led to the formation of the so-called "Gang of Six" that includes Chambliss and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia.
"We now have a $16 trillion debt," he said. "We have to quit spending money in Washington at the rate we are doing now, we have to reform entitlements and we have to have major tax reform."
Chambliss said his group is recommending reducing the current six tax brackets to three and doing away with may tax deductions.
"The chances of anything happening between now and the election are not good. And in the time between the election and Christmas Congress will have to rush to get anything done.
"We have a very small window of opportunity to solve this problem, and if we don't solve it, it will be solved by the people who buy our bonds -- the Chinese," he said.
Calhoun was his first stop on a state tour that will end in Colquitt County before Congress goes back in session next week.
"This is the part of my job that I enjoy the most," Chambliss told the crowd that attended the informal session at GNTC's new building.
"This is an impressive facility," he said. "Georgia's system of technical colleges around the state do a spectacular job."