Sen. Carper Statement on Fiscal Cliff Vote

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, released the following statement on the fiscal cliff vote:

“Following our failure to craft a comprehensive deficit reduction plan in 2011, Congress put in place a set of tax increases and spending cuts in discretionary programs that, if enacted, would be painful and potentially damaging to our economy.

“Unfortunately, the deal the Senate passed this morning is not the grand bargain that I, and many of us, had hoped for, and that’s why I ultimately voted against it.

“We’ve known for some time that there were two principle elements to any genuine budget plan. One, we had to reform entitlements in order to preserve programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security for future generations. And, two, we had to significantly increase federal revenues. Over the last dozen years, they have dropped from roughly 20 percent of GDP, when we had four balanced budgets in a row, to less than 16 percent of GDP today.

“In this deal, we did neither. When push came to shove, we walked away from entitlement and meaningful tax reform, at least for now. Rahm Emanuel, former chief of staff to President Obama, is fond of saying, ‘Never
waste  a good crisis.’ I’m afraid that we’ve just wasted a doozie at a time when our President’s bargaining power was at its zenith.

“Instead of clearly demonstrating to American businesses that are sitting on enormous piles of cash that we can still govern, be fiscally responsible and provide certainty and predictability with respect to our tax code, we leave them saying, ‘Not again.’ Why? Because two months from now, we face the prospect of yet another debt ceiling crisis and more turmoil that will discourage a lot of American businesses from investing their cash in hiring new employees that will help our economy grow.

“The American people want us to do the right thing and not the politically expedient or easy thing. Two times in the last 18 months, President Obama and Speaker Boehner have negotiated in an effort to reach a grand bargain that puts this country on a fiscally sustainable path. Unfortunately, two times, Republicans have chosen not to back their Speaker because of their refusal to consider tax increases on anyone, including those who can most afford it.

“My hope is that this intransigence will someday be overcome, and that the next time there’s a serious effort to put together a budget deal, both sides will stay at the table and seize the opportunity to make the hard choices we know have to be made.”