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Weekly remarks: GOP's Dan Coats says the fiscal crisis is urgent; Obama says times are tough for many

July 2, 2011 |  3:00 am

Capitol Hill

Weekly remarks by Sen. Dan Coats, as provided by Republican Party leadership

Hello. I’m Dan Coats and I have the honor of representing the people of Indiana in the United States Senate. 

Two hundred and thirty-five years ago this July 4th, our Founding Fathers risked their lives and signed a document announcing the birth of America. Their brave declaration of freedom changed the course of history and revolutionized the world. 

Our Founding Fathers severed the chains of tyranny to provide a land of opportunity for future generations. They left it to their children and grandchildren to protect this gift.

This generational responsibility is the story of America. Today, we must ask ourselves: Will we continue this tradition? Will we leave behind a more prosperous country for our children?

When I retired from the Senate 12 years ago, I felt confident that my children and....

....grandchildren would have the opportunity to pursue the American Dream: a quality education, home ownership, and a good paying job to support a family. But over the past few years, I saw that dream become ever tougher for Americans to reach.

I returned to the Senate for one reason: I refused to stand on the sidelines. I refused to be part of the first generation to leave behind a country in worse shape than the one we inherited. 

The American people understand the urgency of our fiscal crisis. They want their elected officials to stop spending money we don’t have, and to enact policies that will grow our economy and get Americans back to work. 

Unfortunately, the President’s economic plan of spending and borrowing has failed. Over the past two years, debt has skyrocketed 35 percent to our nation’s limit of $14.3 trillion. The annual deficit is now three times greater than the highest deficit of the previous administration. And today, nearly 14 million Americans are without work.

If these numbers aren’t alarming enough, then the President should consider the numerous warnings from the financial markets both here and abroad. The eyes of the world are fixed on the U.S. to see if we have the political courage and moral sense to solve our debt crisis.

The President and Democrats in Congress must recognize that their game plan is not working. It’s time to acknowledge that more government and higher taxes is not the answer to our problem. It’s time for bold action and a new Indiana Republican Senator Dan Coatsplan to address our current crisis.

For inspiration, they should look outside Washington, and there is no better playbook for getting us on the right track than the one used in Indiana.

The Hoosier way is quite simple – we work hard and we live within our means. In Indiana, we understand that you cannot spend more money than you take in. When our state fell off course, a leader stepped up with solutions to steer it straight, and the people of Indiana responded.

Governor Mitch Daniels, like the President, inherited a weak economy. In 2005, Indiana faced a $200 million deficit and had failed to balance the budget for seven years. And while other states increased spending and raised taxes, Indiana reduced spending, cut taxes and paid down its debts. Thanks to our governor’s leadership and the resolve of Hoosiers, our state is now the most attractive place to do business in the Midwest. 

The spend less, borrow less and tax less model in Indiana has resulted in balanced budgets, job creation, and a triple-A credit rating. In contrast, the spend more, borrow more and tax more approach of the President has resulted in fewer jobs, higher debt and a threatened downgrade from credit agencies.
The Hoosier model is a necessary first step to repairing our country’s finances. And this week, every Senate Republican took that step by committing to a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Speaker of the House has committed to bringing the Balanced Budget Amendment to a vote later this month, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has committed to fighting for a vote in the Senate as well. Broke or balanced, that’s the choice before us.

Now some doubt our ability to overcome this fiscal crisis. But the problem we face is not insurmountable. We have overcome major challenges in the past. Times of trial have always produced moments of great leadership that rally the American people.

Now is the time for decisive leadership from this President.

It’s time to cast aside the false safety of political denial and reelection hopes and put the future of our country above all else.

On July 4th 1776, our Founding Fathers put their honor and lives on the line to break from oppression and create a republic that valued individual rights, freedom, and liberty.

It is not only our duty, but our moral obligation to break from the oppression of debt and strengthen our country. We must all rise above the political considerations and do what is right for the future of our nation.

Thank you and may God continue to bless America as we celebrate our Independence.          

Democrat president barack Obama enjoys an Oval Office phone call

President Obama's weekly remarks, as provided by the White House

Right now, there are a lot of folks who are still struggling with the effects of the recession. They’re wondering how they’d deal with an unexpected expense if their car breaks down. They’re worried about layoffs. They’re not sure if they can help their kids pay for college. And for many families, these challenges were around long before the recession hit in 2007.

I ran for President because I believed in an America where ordinary folks could get ahead - where if you worked hard, you could have a better life. That’s been my focus since I came into office, and that has to be our focus now.  It’s one of the reasons why we’re working to reduce our nation’s deficit.  Government has to start living within its means, just like families do. We have to cut the spending we can’t afford so we can put the economy on sounder footing, and give our businesses the confidence they need to grow and create jobs.  Obama walks to Marine One for another weekend vacatrion 7-1-11

The good news is, Democrats and Republicans agree on the need to solve the problem. And over the last few weeks, the Vice President and I have gotten both parties to identify more than $1 trillion in spending cuts. That’s trillion with a ‘t.’  But after a decade in which Washington ran up the country’s credit card, we’ve got to find more savings to get out of the red. That means looking at every program and tax break in the budget – every single one – to find places to cut waste and save money. It means we’ll have to make tough decisions and scale back worthy programs. And nothing can be off limits, including spending in the tax code, particularly the loopholes that benefit very few individuals and corporations. 

Now, it would be nice if we could keep every tax break, but we can’t afford them. Because if we choose to keep those tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, or for hedge fund managers and corporate jet owners, or for oil and gas companies pulling in huge profits without our help – then we’ll have to make even deeper cuts somewhere else. We’ve got to say to a student, ‘You don’t get a college scholarship.’  We have to say to a medical researcher, ‘You can’t do that cancer research.’ We might have to tell seniors, ‘You have to pay more for Medicare.’

That isn’t right, and it isn’t smart. We’ve got to cut the deficit, but we can do that while making investments in education, research and technology that actually create jobs. We can live within our means while still investing in our future. That’s what we have to do. And I’m confident that the Democrats and Republicans in Congress can find a way to give some ground, make some hard choices, and put their shoulders to wheel to get this done for the sake of our country. 

On Monday, we celebrate Independence Day, the day we declared a new nation, based on revolutionary idea: that people ought to determine their own destiny; that freedom and self-governance weren’t gifts handed to us by kings or emperors, but the rights of every human being. We’ve learned in the years since that democracy isn’t always pretty. We have arguments. We disagree. But time and again, we’ve proven that we could come together to solve problems. We remember that while we may not see eye-to-eye on everything, we share a love for this country and a faith in its future. That’s the spirit we need to harness now. That’s how we’ll meet this challenge and reach a brighter day. Thanks for listening, and have a wonderful Fourth of July.  


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Photos: Alex Wong / Getty Images; Daniel Patmore / Associated Press (Coats); Pete Souza / White House; Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images (Obama walks to his helicopter for a weekend vacation).