In the Weekly Republican Address, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, says comprehensive tax reform, solutions to protecting and strengthening entitlements, and reducing our nation's unsustainable debt are crucial to fixing the fiscal cliff. With the need for presidential leadership on a plan to avoid the tax hikes, Sen. Hatch says, " the President has an obligation to first steer us away from the fiscal cliff But we'll never get there with the unserious plan the President proposed this week." As only 30 days remain, Sen. Hatch presses, "The longer the White House waits to get serious is a day closer to going over the fiscal cliff, and the harder it will be to find a solution." The Weekly Republican Address is available in both audio and video format and is embargoed until 6:00 a.m. ET, Saturday, December 1, 2012. The audio of the address is available here, the video will be available here and you may download the address here. A full transcript of the address follows:
"Hi. I'm Senator Orrin Hatch from the great state of Utah.
"The holiday season is upon us: a time when families come together to celebrate and reflect on another year gone by--and another one set to begin.
"But this holiday season is different: as the clock ticks down towards the New Year, nearly every single American is facing the real prospect of what's called the Fiscal Cliff.
"If we don't act by the end of the year, 28 million more families and individuals will be forced to pay the Alternative Minimum Tax, 21 times as many farmers and ranchers will be hit with the death tax, and the average middle-class family would see their taxes go up by at least $2,000.
"Economic leaders have told us that if we don't act, our nation will fall into another painful recession--pushing unemployment back up over 9 percent, threatening our children's ability to get a good paying job, and putting seniors' retirements at risk.
"The President has said he wants a so-called balanced approach to solve this crisis. But what he proposed this week was a classic bait and switch on the American people--a tax increase double the size of what he campaigned on, billions of dollars in new stimulus spending and an unlimited, unchecked authority to borrow from the Chinese. Maybe I missed it but I don't recall him asking for any of that during the presidential campaign. These ideas are so radical that they have already been rejected on a bipartisan basis by Congress.
"Fresh off his reelection, the President has an obligation to first steer us away from the fiscal cliff, and second, to tackle our $16-plus trillion debt, that is driven by our runaway entitlement programs, so our country doesn't reach this dangerous crossroads ever again.
"But we've seen an utter lack of leadership from President Obama, and his allies on the left have shown little--very little--to no willingness to tackle real, structural entitlement reform. There is no manner of tax hike that can save Medicare or Medicaid--these programs can only be fixed with real reforms that go to the heart of how they work.
"Some on the left say that tinkering around the edges of Medicare and Medicaid with cuts to hospital and doctor payments would be enough--or that the President's deeply flawed health law is entitlement reform. They argue that we don't need to examine the structural problems that plague both of these programs.
"Make no mistake about it--shoring up Medicare and Medicaid will not be easy. But the situation has become so severe that it is the only responsible course to take.
"Consider the Medicare program. In just over a decade, it will be bankrupt. On average, Medicare beneficiaries receive $3 in benefits for every $1 they paid into the system. And that's while 10,000 more Americans join this program every day, the number of workers supporting it has declined by almost 18 percent over the last decade. How bad is it? The average family could give up its salary for an entire year and sell their house and still not have enough to pay their share to secure Medicare. This is unsustainable.
"Unfortunately, some on the other side of the aisle are advocating a disastrous Thelma and Louise strategy that would take us over the cliff, putting millions of middle-class families, small businesses, and our already weak economy in further jeopardy.
"They want more and more of the American people's tax dollars to spend without putting in place any meaningful and responsible reforms to the biggest government programs on the books. That just doesn't make sense. Especially when you consider that if the President has his way by raising the top two marginal tax rates--nearly a million businesses and 700,000 jobs would be at risk. He would be willing to put 700,000 jobs at risk in return for getting enough money to fund our government for 7 days.
"This is a strange turn of events, considering that in 2010, the President and 40 Senate Democrats supported extending these very tax rates, citing our sluggish economy, which was even stronger then than it is today.
"We should not raise these taxes, but we should enact comprehensive tax reform that will generate more revenue, create jobs, and increase our GDP by as much as 3.5 percent. We should find a solution to ensure the survival of the Medicare program. And the President should work with Republicans to bring down our country's unsustainable debt.
"But we'll never get there with the unserious plan the President proposed this week. The longer the White House waits to get serious is a day closer to going over the fiscal cliff, and the harder it will be to find a solution.
"Americans want Washington to work together to get our country back on track, and to ensure we leave it in a better place than we found it for future generations. This is our chance. Let's make the hard decisions. Let's make those decisions we know must be made.
"Thank you for listening. May God bless America and all of you."