With only a few weeks left in the 112th Congress the Senate has a lot on its plate, but very little progress was made this week on the most pressing issue facing our nation - the impending fiscal cliff. As you know, unless Congress acts quickly, every American will experience a perfect storm of unprecedented tax increases and automatic cuts to spending on everything from defense to Medicare on January 1, 2013.
Unfortunately, despite the severity of this situation, many in Washington are still unwilling to work together to reach a deal that will keep our nation from going over the fiscal cliff, putting our economy in an even more perilous situation than it is in now. On Thursday, President Obama put forth a proposal that calls for a massive $1.6 trillion tax increase (affecting not just the wealthiest 2%), more so-called "stimulus" spending by the federal government, and the ability to raise the debt limit without Congressional approval. Taxing Americans more just to spend more is not going to reduce budget deficits, and our $16 trillion national debt will continue to climb without any congressional oversight.
If we are serious about addressing our nation's financial problems and avoiding the fiscal cliff, one of the first and most important things we must address is our broken and burdensome tax code. We need to simplify the tax code, eliminate tax loopholes, and lower rates so that small businesses can grow and families get a break. Raising taxes - on anyone - will not address the deep, fundamental problems in our tax system.
Additionally, and equally as important, reductions in spending must be part of any serious deal if the goal is to improve our fiscal situation and put our economy back on track. I am hopeful we can avoid the unprioritized sequestration cuts that would go into effect if no deal is reached, and I support spending cuts along the lines of those outlined by Bowles-Simpson commission. However, Democrats have been unwilling to put a serious deficit reduction offer on the table so far, and the President's most recent proposal includes another round of stimulus spending that will cost taxpayers $50 billion in the next year alone.
This is a serious issue, and the outcome -- be it a solution or the result of what will happen if we go off the fiscal cliff -- will have long reaching effects on our economy and on generations of Americans to come. I am hopeful a suitable solution can be reached, but the lack of progress thus far is not encouraging.