America's staggering national debt burdens every Alaskan family and is the greatest single threat to our country's future as we emerge from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Both political parties are guilty of deficit spending, but now it's vital that officials from both parties work together to improve our nation's fiscal position and reduce the debt, which currently totals more than $16 trillion.
As mayor of Anchorage, Senator Begich demonstrated an ability to make tough decisions and balance the budget. After inheriting a $33 million budget gap in 2003, he cut city staff, won wages freezes from public employee unions, collected unpaid fines, reformed Anchorage's tax code and reorganized government for greater efficiency. Now, Senator Begich is working hard with the rest of the Alaska congressional delegation to reduce the federal deficit and debt.
Senator Begich recognizes the challenge of achieving national fiscal responsibility, and believes we need a three-pronged approach to solving our nation's fiscal challenges:
First, we need to get serious about cutting spending;
Second, we need comprehensive tax reform to simplify the tax code and bring down the deficit;
Finally, we need to look to the future and make investments in critical areas like energy, education, and infrastructure to pave the way for a strong future for our state and country.
Senator Begich has proposed and supported numerous measures to cut spending during his time in office, including:
A five-year spending freeze on discretionary federal spending;
Cutting farm subsidies;
Cutting by half the congressional printing/binding budget;
Selling federal properties the government no longer uses;
Repealing the burdensome 1099 provision in the health care law would require businesses to file IRS forms for every vendor from which they buy at least $600 in goods from each year starting in 2012;
Ending the Troubled Asset Relief Program; and
Redirecting abandoned earmarks toward bringing down the deficit.
Decisions about what and where to cut federal are tough but necessary. To identify commonsense ways of reducing our national deficit, Senator Begich has asked
As Senator Begich works to curtail reckless spending, he recognizes we must protect vital programs for Alaskans and will continue to support crucial Alaska funding for the Denali Commission and projects that create jobs, and promote health and safety across the state. He does not believe ceding authority over earmarks to the executive branch is an effective way to reduce the deficit. Senator Begich also believes we must protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and fully provide the benefits our military and veterans have earned through their bravery and sacrifice.
Comprehensive Tax Reform
Senator Begich believes comprehensive tax reform which simplifies our tax code while generating modest new revenue is a critical component of any approach to achieving fiscal responsibility. Senator Begich is a cosponsor of the Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act, which would cut the federal deficit by an average of $61 billion a year while creating 2.3 million jobs. Closing some tax loopholes for corporations that send jobs overseas alone would save billions of dollars.
This legislation would:
Create 2.3 million new jobs for Americans;
Cut the federal deficit by an average $61 billion a year;
Add $500 billion to America's GDP by 2015;
Allow most taxpayers to file a simple one-page 1040 form in less than an hour;
Hold down taxes for all Americans by ending unfair tax breaks and loopholes;
Reduces the number of individual tax brackets from six to three: 15 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent;
Allow small businesses with annual receipts of up to $1 million permanently expense all equipment and inventory costs in a single year;
Create a single flat corporate tax rate of 24 percent.
Investments for the Future
The world is changing faster than ever, and Senator Begich supports investing in critical areas such as education, energy, and infrastructure in order to position Alaska and the nation to be competitive in the 21st century and beyond.
Success in the fiercely competitive 21st century economy depends on better preparing Alaskans. Alaska already boasts many cutting-edge entrepreneurs who say well educated young people who excel at math, science and computer skills are vital.
That's why Senator Begich recently introduced legislation to improve teaching in science, technology, engineering and math. Instead of the disastrous No Child Left Behind, his bill targets funds to high-need students in high-need districts, encourages out-of-the-box thinking and supports professional teacher development.
Oil fuels Alaska's economy, generating more than 110,000 Alaskan jobs and producing generous dividends for each Alaskan. But today, North Slope production is at a record low, threatening the pipeline's continued viability. That's why Senator Begich favors development on both state and federal lands and waters. He has introduced legislation to streamline the federal process with a federal Arctic outer continental shelf coordinator and address the different energy development air permitting systems so Alaska projects can receive timely federal permits.
Particularly given Alaska's geographic location, modernizing our land, sea, and air transportation infrastructure will allow the state to serve as a waypoint for vast amounts of international trade. Modernizing our communication infrastructure with broadband and high speed wireless access will also improve our ability to compete in the 21st century.
With the ban on earmarks is in place, it's more important than ever to be creative in finding the resources to help Alaska transform its infrastructure. For example, the current Coast Guard bill authored by Senator Begich includes funding to study the feasibility of a deep water arctic port.