A picture of Senator Tom Harkin
Thomas H.
Former Democrat IA
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    The Budget and the Deficit

    by Former Senator Tom Harkin

    Posted on 2013-01-23

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    HARKIN. Madam President, I couldn't help but listen to the words of my friend from Alabama regarding the debt and deficit, and then to be reminded that we did balance the budget not too long ago. In fact, in 1993, we passed a tax bill here in the Senate and in the House--it was signed into law by President Clinton--which set us on a course to reduce the deficit. In fact, by the years 1999 and 2000, we balanced the budget. We had a surplus. Can you imagine that? We had a surplus for 3 years in a row. The Congressional Budget Office and OMB said that if we had continued on that pathway, we would have fully paid off the national debt by 2010.

    When I hear my friends on the Republican side talk about reducing the deficit and the debt, we did that. When the Democrats were in charge of the Senate and the House and we had the Presidency, I would also point out that not one Republican on that side of the aisle voted for that bill in 1993. I can remember standing here and debating with my friend from Texas at that time on this bill, and there were all kinds of dire warnings that if this bill passed, we were going to have depressions and recessions; the business community would stop, and it would be the worst thing that ever happened to this country if we passed the Clinton tax proposal. Well, we passed it, but without one Republican vote.

    And what happened? We had the largest spurt of economic growth this country had seen almost since the 1950s and 1960s. This was to the point to where, as I said, by the end of the 1990s we had a balanced budget and we had a surplus.

    Then President Bush comes into office, and we had surpluses, enough to retire the entire national debt by the year 2010. So what did President Bush say? Well, now we are going to give tax cuts. They pushed through this big tax cut bill for which this Senator did not vote.

    That tax cut bill gave a lot away to corporations and to the wealthy of this country, so that they didn't have to pay their fair share. Also, there were two wars we didn't pay for, plus a recession, and now we are in this huge deficit.

    We know how to get ourselves out of this fix. We did it in 1993. It was by having the people in this country pay their fair share of taxes, to make sure that corporations, to make sure that those who enjoy the benefits of living in this free and productive society, pay their fair share. This is for all of us to raise the revenues necessary to meet our obligations in education, health, infrastructure building, the security of our Nation, and also to raise enough revenues so we can reduce the deficit.

    But it can only be done with fairness and with fair sharing by all, and that is what President Obama has spoken about. He spoke about that in his inaugural address. That is what we have been talking about here for a long time; that is, shared sacrifice on behalf of all, and to make sure that all pay their fair share of taxes in this country so we can once again do what we did in 1993. We can do it again if only my friends on the Republican side will join with us in making sure we raise the necessary revenues to get us out of this hole.

    I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Baldwin). The Senator from Missouri.


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