Thune tells residents Washington spends too much
By Sandy Bond –
As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, South Dakota’s junior Senator John Thune feels that meeting with constituents will educate them as to what the fiscal cliff means and how it will affect South Dakotans. He believes that it’s not that the U.S. taxes too little, but spends too much.
Introduced by Mobridge Mayor Jaime Dietterle and Chamber of Commerce president Michele Harrison, a week before the country may tumble off the fiscal cliff, Thune gave a power point presentation to his South Dakota constituents at the Moose Lodge in Mobridge Wednesday to better inform them as to how we got to this point, the consequences, and how to avoid the worst case scenario: “America’s Fiscal and Economic Future: Averting The Fiscal Cliff With A Renewed Focus On Spending Reform.”
The consequence of inaction, he said: the largest tax increase in history, $4.5 trillion; higher income taxes on every taxpayer; massive “death tax” expansion impacting more than half of all South Dakota farms; higher taxes on investments; higher taxes on families.
According to the presentation the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office stated the American economy was facing a return to unemployment above 9 percent, a recession in the first half of 2013, and increased government spending for unemployment insurance and food stamps.
The Tax Relief Bill, he continued, protects more than 99 percent of South Dakota taxpayers, rescues more than 98 percent of small business owners from higher taxes, protects South Dakota family farms and businesses from the crippling death tax, makes the $1,000 child tax credit permanent; and protects middle-income families from the Alternative Minimum Tax. It also makes permanent income tax rates for taxpayers with incomes below $400,000 (single) and $450,000 (married); 15 percent tax rate on capital gains and dividends for taxpayers below $400,000 and $450,000; and the $5 million per spouse exemption from the death tax (at a 40 percent top rate). The choice, Thune continued, is to allow a massive tax increase on all taxpayers or protect 99 percent of South Dakota taxpayers from tax increases. President Obama’s tax increases on the so-called rich fund the government this year for less than one week, Thune said, but the real issue is to reduce spending and reform entitlements. He said federal health care spending represents the single largest fiscal challenge over the long run, according to the Simpson-Bowles Fiscal Commission Report. Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt without refrom with Medicare being insolvent by 2024, according to Medicare Trustees. Social Security has been in a cash deficit for the past two years, according to Social Security Trustees.
He went on to say America faces a debt crisis driven by mandatory entitlement spending and reprioritizing federal programs and eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse is a necessity. No serious plan can exclude entitlements.
Passing a responsible budget is a critical part of spending restraint. The Senate has failed to pass a formal budget since 2001 and during this time, the deficit has exceeded $1 trillion four years in a row. How much is $1 trillion, he asked? One trillion is $100 bills stacked 689 miles or the equivalent of driving from Watertown to Denver. If a business lost $1 million dollars per day, each and every day since Jesus was born, it still wouldn’t have lost $1 trillion. It would take another 728 years before $1 trillion was reached.
From the second amendment to the Constitution (the right to bear arms), where Thune has long expressed his position that law-abiding citizens have the right to own a gun, to the U.S. Farm Bill, which contained a level of reform while maintaining programs important to South Dakotans such as crop insurance, a brief question and answer session followed the presentation.