Senator John Hoeven today spoke on the Senate floor to call for greater bipartisan consensus to address the fiscal cliff now facing the nation.
"We must -- and in fact we can -- find consensus and agreement. We've done it before. We did it in building a good, solid Farm Bill, which actually found $23 billion in savings toward the deficit. We did it in passing a strong highway bill that will strengthen the nation's infrastructure. It will take more of this kind of cooperation and consensus-building to address the very real and substantial challenges facing our nation today."
The senator said doing three essential things are necessary to address the fiscal cliff: reforming our tax code; reforming entitlement programs; and better controlling our spending.
Reforming the tax code means closing loopholes and limiting deductions, which combined with economic growth will produce revenues without raising tax rates to help reduce the deficit and debt, Hoeven said. Further, we can accomplish entitlement reform in a way that doesn't change programs for people at or near retirement, yet ensures that those programs will be there for our children.
Finally, he said, we need to control our spending. "Our federal deficit for Fiscal Year 2012 was $1.1 trillion, and our national debt is now more than $16 trillion. That's unsustainable. More revenues from tax reform and economic growth, combined with entitlement reform and controlling spending, will reduce our deficit and debt, and there is no question we can do it."
For example, the farm bill version the Senate passed with broad bipartisan support would not only help our farmers, but also save $23 billion dollars, he said. The House version, which has been passed out of committee and is pending on the floor, would save $35 million. "Passing a good farm bill can be part of the solution for the fiscal cliff."
"We must make America a great place to do business again. Our pro-growth strategies in my home state of North Dakota have broadened our economic base and raised revenues without raising taxes. That has resulted in the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, growing personal income and, rather than a deficit, a budget surplus. It's a growing economy, a growing economic base that creates more jobs and revenue.
"We need both parties working together so that when we're done, we can say: "This is a plan that the American people can agree on.' With bipartisan consensus, I believe we can avert the fiscal cliff looming before us and put our nation on a sustainable fiscal path.
"The reality is solving our nation's fiscal problems is achievable. We can find real budget savings in a far more thoughtful way than through sequestration. Reforming our tax code, reforming entitlement programs and better control over our spending will work.
"Add a measure of good-faith bipartisanship and we can get our nation growing again. We can get people back to work. For the sake of our country, we need to do it and we need to do it now."