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Hearing of the House Budget Committee - Bipartisan Debt Reduction


Location: Washington, DC

"When we've had great fiscal bipartisan agreements in the past, whether it was Reagan with Gramm-Rudman, Bush with Democrats in the Senate in 1990, Gingrich and Clinton, [the creation of] Bowles-Simpson, or the Budget Control Act, these things were part of debt-limit agreements. [The debt limit] has always been the forcing action that got us agreements.

"What we're getting from [CBO's testimony] is if we put together a package now before the Federal Reserve normalizes--before interest rates start going up--we will put ourselves as a nation in a very good position. But if we miss this moment, if we just kick the can because we keep fighting each other, then we will not get this opportunity. The Federal Reserve will start tapering--it's not an "if," it's a "when." Interest rates will go up. And shame on us. Because the hole we will have to dig ourselves out of, then, will be that much deeper. [Director Elmendorf] is giving us numbers: $145 billion a year versus $350 billion a year [in more debt]. It is so clearly in our interest as a country to do something about this.

"This is not a Republican versus Democrat thing. This is a math thing. What we're seeing here, it is the health-care programs that are the primary drivers of our debt. This is why we are focused on these health-care programs. This is also why we're focused on tax reform. If we keep high marginal tax rates, we hurt businesses. We hurt job growth. We slow down the economy from hitting its potential. If we lower our marginal tax rates, we have more economic investment. We have more entrepreneurship. Small businesses can compete. If we lower our tax rates, we can have faster economic growth.

"If we take advantage of the moment we're in--the low-interest-rate moment we're in, which will not last that much longer--and get a fiscal-consolidation package on spending and entitlement reform, we will do our country a big favor. We will do our children a big favor because we will bank debt reduction and economic growth at a time [when] it makes the most bang for the buck, the most difference. If we don't take advantage of this moment--this is why we're focused on the debt limit, this is why we're focused on these issues--shame on us. The hole we'll have to dig ourselves out of will be that much deeper."

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