Lincoln Chafee on Budget & Economy
Democratic presidential challenger; Independent RI Governor; Republican Senator (1999-2007)
CHAFEE: Yes, absolutely. There's no doubt that Senator Warren's absolutely right about what's happening to the middle class and she's just been a prophet about this for a number of years. And that's what makes any community, whether it's a state or a city or a country or anywhere around the world strong: having a robust middle class. I have a great record of voting against the Bush tax cuts which widened that disparity of wealth, that hurt the middle class, led to the Great Recession. And so I'm proud of my record and would like to have Senator Warren's support and her legion of followers.
WHITEHOUSE: The Bush administration tax cuts have run up our budget deficit to the highest levels ever. We now owe nearly a trillion dollars to the Chinese government, much of which went to finance tax cuts for the very richest Americans. If you are a middle-income Rhode Islander, and you got $1 of tax relief under the Bush tax cut, somebody making more than $200,000 got $111. That has not been good policy. We need to repeal the Bush tax cuts.
CHAFEE: Iím all for tax cuts as long as we can cut our spending. The difficulty has been that we cut the taxes but we donít cut our spending. Weíve had some tremendous unforeseen costs -- with 9/11, the war in Iraq & Afghanistan, and Katrina. I think we should prepare for those, and I donít believe tax cuts, as long as weíre not cutting our spending, is a wise course to take. During the 1990s, we had something called ďpay as you go.Ē We would not enact any spending programs that we couldnít pay for with revenue.
CHAFEE: $27 billion in a $2.5 trillion budget, thatís 1% of the budget. If youíre saying Iím going down to reform all our financial problems, itís in 1% of the budget. Every year I send a letter to every city and town, the town manager, the mayor, the president of the city council and ask how can I help you in your neighborhoods? They write back, I then submit those requests to the subcommittee. That goes to the Senate full committee, then to the House. It gets signed by the President. Then it becomes law. So itís a long process.
What we offer today are not the precise spending decisions of a given year's budget; rather, we call upon the Congress and the nation to adopt the following guidelines for our fiscal policy over the next decade. This long-term blueprint is essential for maintaining both the immediate public-sector goal of balancing the budget and the private-sector goal of a healthy economy. This can be achieved through the following steps:
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