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Public Statements

The Fiscal Cliff

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. COATS. Mr. President, I came to the floor before I heard the announcement that apparently we are closing in, thankfully, on something which I don't have all the details of as yet. So I can't simply say hooray, this is exactly what we ought to do. I think neither side is going to be able to say this is what we wanted to do.

But in recognition of the fact that we are careening now--hours are ticking--hours away from a devastating impact on Americans all across the country, every taxpayer--Senator Lieberman announced the statistics relative to the impact on the average family in his State, and the same is true for Indiana and for all 50 States, to impose the massive tax increases which will occur on every taxpayer at midnight tonight, without addressing that, it is just simply unacceptable.

It is hard for a lot of us to swallow how little we did in addressing the larger fiscal issue in this country in order to get past this imposed deadline on something I did not vote for and did not support because I could see it coming to this end, and it was absolutely the wrong way to legislate and the wrong way to govern--pushing us toward this fiscal cliff, laying that dark cloud of uncertainty over every business in America, every household in America.

Everyone who had any interest in investing or was trying to plan for the future kept saying: I can't make a decision. I can't make plans. I don't know what you are going to do. Are we going over the cliff? Are my taxes going to rise? Are regulations going to increase? What is the future? And if the future remains uncertain, I can't plan ahead. If it is bad certainty, I can work around it. I might not like it, but I can make the adjustments necessary.

So, as a result, we have a stagnant economy as a result of all this.

I am hoping that when we learn the details of what we have finally arrived at, which we will be learning very shortly, I am hoping it is something we can swallow hard and accept, knowing--knowing--this fiscal cliff is nothing compared to the real fiscal cliff. The real fiscal cliff is the continued excessive borrowing and spending of over $1 trillion a year that is driving this country into a serious fiscal situation for the future. And it is not just something our children and grandchildren are going to have to pay for years down the line. It is something we are all paying for now. It is something that is keeping people from getting back to work, keeping companies from expanding.

We have an obligation to our generation and all future generations to address what I believe every American who is paying any attention whatsoever understands--and certainly everyone in this body and in our corresponding House down the hall understands, whether they are a Republican, a Democrat, liberal, or conservative--is just simple math. It is not even algebra or calculus. It is third grade math. You cannot raise $2.2 trillion a year and spend $3.5 trillion or $3.4 trillion. Literally, we have now added approaching $6 trillion in just the last 4 years, and it is unsustainable. That is going to hurt everybody, and it is hurting our economy right now. That is the real cliff. That is the cliff we have to continue to address. That is the cliff we were hoping to address in the leverage of this situation, but we are coming up very, very short.

Mr. President, I didn't realize we were under a time limitation. Are we under a time limitation?

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Manchin). The Senator has 2 minutes remaining.

Mr. COATS. All right. I thank the Chair. I saw some angst on the face of the Chair, and I thought my time was up.

Let me just say this to my colleagues. Many of us who watched the President's press conference--no, it wasn't a press conference; the President's speech--felt we were seeing a rerun of something that took place during the campaign. We have all been watching a lot of football, and for Republicans to sit and listen and watch that, it reminded me of taunting those people on the other team. It stops you cold. It stands over you and taunts. It got so bad that now the NFL has made it a penalty and they throw the flag. It is not something we would expect out of the leader of this free Nation. It is not statesmanship. It is not leadership. It is in your face. It was dismissive, it was insulting, it was belittling, and in the end it was sad.

Now, the natural reaction is to get angry and push back and get revenge. But that is not where we are, and that is not where we need to be. We need to set this aside. It is like the coach tapping us on the shoulder pad and saying: What was done speaks for itself; don't stoop to that level. So we need to set that aside now and go forward in the interest of the future of this country, in the interest of America and the families and people we represent in our States, and look at this very carefully.

I think every one of us is going to say we haven't begun to address the spending, we haven't begun to address what we need to do, and so that has to be our charge in 2013--relentlessly.

And I would say, Mr. President, I think people on the other side of the aisle were probably embarrassed also by that speech. It was a campaign speech, and the campaigns are over. The President doesn't need to run for office anymore. It is time to lead. So let's all get together.

We have been working together----

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.

Mr. COATS. I ask unanimous consent for 1 more minute.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. COATS. I want to say this: To make laughter out of this, to ridicule it--it addresses all of us because I have been working with Senators across the aisle and they have been working with us. We all take this very, very seriously. This is not a joke. This is not something to make fun of. This is not something to politicize. This is something where we should rise above politics and do what is right for the future of America even though it is difficult. This is not doing what many of us would like to do, but we have been working together, Democrats and Republicans, and I can name dozens of Democrats who think this is a serious matter and who have been working hard for the last 2 years to try to address it, as frustrated as we are on this side.

So let's understand this is not a game. This is real. Let's work together to do what we can do and then continue to address the real issues as we go forward in 2013.

With that, I yield the floor.


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