HURON — Republicans and Democrats can find common ground on immigration and tax reform as well as energy and trade issues, but the GOP won’t support tax increases to reduce the debt, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said Wednesday.
Looming just two weeks away is the sequester and the prospect of deep budget cuts.
“I think the odds are pretty good that it’s going to happen,” Thune said in a conference call with reporters as he reacted to President Obama’s first State of the Union address of his second term.
In the days leading up to March 1, both parties will have proposals.
“If I were a betting man, I think neither will pass,” he said.
Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., was scheduled to have a conference call, but it was cancelled because of technical difficulties.
In a statement, he said he was disappointed the president failed to mention the farm bill. Producers in South Dakota and across the nation need the certainty a five-year farm bill can provide, he said.
But he said the president’s focus on jobs and the middle class provides the leadership to take the country in the right direction.
“I was pleased that he stressed clean and renewable energy as the future direction for our energy policy,” Johnson said. “It is important for South Dakota with our abundant wind and ethanol resources.”
Like Thune, Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said Obama missed an opportunity with Tuesday evening’s speech to a joint session of Congress and millions of Americans to offer necessary solutions to runaway spending and escalating debt.
“We need leadership, not more division,” she said in a statement. “We need to focus on finding more common ground, not creating more conflict.
“I continue to believe that the best solutions are found through the regular legislative process and I’m concerned by the president’s willingness to rely on executive orders,” Noem said.
“Now is the time for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to come to the table and find real solutions to our nation’s problems,” she said.
It’s best to tackle deficit reduction with the balanced approach of targeted cuts and raising revenue, Johnson said in agreeing with the president.
“We are not going to simply cut our way to prosperity,” he said. “We also need to invest in America’s future by investing in education from preschool to college to give our children the tools they need to thrive in tomorrow’s economy.”
While Obama spent time talking about new investments, he did not say how they would be paid for, Thune said. He talked about tax loopholes, but not about lowering rates, he said. Obama mentioned raising the minimum wage, but not about reducing the cost of regulations on businesses which makes it difficult for them to hire more workers.
Reining in spending — but not by raising taxes — is critical because it is “the biggest crisis of our time,” Thune said. “The debt will crush us. It can’t go on like this.”
If the sequester happens, Thune predicts the administration will selectively implement it, forcing Congress to agree to tax increases. But the White House just won a victory with an increase at the start of 2013, he said.
“We believe that issue has been dealt with,” he said.For the complete article see the 02-14-2013 issue.
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