Fischer: Entitlement reform requires "political courage"
Freshman Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., called for "political courage" in tackling entitlement reform in today's weekly GOP address, saying that without "making these hard decisions, America will never rein in spending or achieve a balanced budget."
"It's no secret that to cut spending, we must find ways to reduce the costs of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid - the primary drivers of our national debt," Fischer said. Although she cautioned that we must keep our promises to those in or nearing retirement, she added, "In order to save these popular programs, we must reform them. If not, they will no longer exist for future generations and will bankrupt us in the meantime."
While Fischer touts entitlement cuts as a necessary dose of fiscal medicine, she does not feel the same about the defense cuts included in the so-called sequester. "The Constitution clearly states that the top priority for Congress is to 'provide for the common defense.' Despite this core duty, nearly a trillion dollars in critical national security funding is slated to be dangerously cut from the defense budget over the next decade," Fischer said, "all because some leaders in Washington can't get their priorities straight.
Fischer also addressed the looming fight over raising the debt ceiling, promising to use the borrowing limit to extract spending cuts: "The President will soon ask Congress to raise the nation's debt limit--again. I believe we cannot agree to increase the borrowing limit without addressing our out-of-control spending."
And the Nebraska Republican also echoed GOP leaders in trying to eliminate taxes from the deficit reduction debate, saying, "The debate over taxes and revenues is done. Tax increases barely pay for a few days of government spending and in all my years of public service, I have never had constituents ask me to raise their taxes."
Meanwhile, President Obama used his weekly address to discuss the changing American role in Afghanistan, reiterating much of what he said at Friday's joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
"Over the past four years, thanks to our brave men and women in uniform, we've dealt devastating blows to al Qaeda. We've pushed the Taliban out of their strongholds," Mr. Obama said. "And our core objective - the reason we went to Afghanistan in the first place - is now within reach: ensuring that al Qaeda can never again use Afghanistan to launch attacks against America."
"This week, we agreed that this spring, Afghan forces will take the lead for security across the country, and our troops will shift to a support role," he said. "And by the end of next year, America's war in Afghanistan will be over."
"After more than a decade of war," the president explained, "the nation we need to rebuild is our own."
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