Thune Addresses Fiscal Cliff on Senate Floor

Spending Led to Fiscal Crisis, Democrats Demand More

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, earlier today spoke on the Senate floor to criticize the Democrat-led Senate’s lack of fiscal discipline that led to the current fiscal crisis, as well as Democrats’ continued instance to tax more so Washington can spend more. Full video remarks can be found above. Excerpts can be found below:

How we got here:

“We are where we are today because we haven't done our work when we should have previously. If you think about the fact that for three consecutive years—three years in a row—in the United States Senate we haven't passed a budget. We spent $3.5 trillion of American taxpayer money every single year and for three consecutive years we have not had a budget.

“We've been here for a whole year. And now we've got people coming up and saying gee, I really wish that these negotiations will get us to an outcome. It's December 31. January 1 is tomorrow. 2013 taxes go up. Everybody agrees it will be a disaster for the economy. We can't allow that to happen. It will ruin the economy. But where were we? Where were we for the past month and the month before that and the month before that? Dealing with what we knew was going to be this very set of circumstances that we face today. And so I just find it really hard to sit and listen to people come up now and wring their hands and talk about gee whiz, I hope we can get something done here in the last day, as we put two people together basically to resolve this.

“Why didn't we have a bill on the floor of the United States Senate that we could actually debate? Why didn't we put something out here under regular order? Open it up, allow senators to offer amendments, allow them to have amendments voted on.

Washington spends too much, doesn’t tax too little:

“The ironic thing about it is those discussions, at least to my knowledge of them, there's very little being discussed, if anything, that deals with how is this country going to figure out a way to spend less, which is the problem … I mean, let's face it. Washington D.C. doesn't have a taxing problem. We have a spending problem.

“If you give the president of the United States everything that he wants in terms of tax increases, you raise enough revenue next year to fund the federal government for less than a single week. So what do we do for the other weeks of the year?

“The best thing we can do is to get the economy growing and expanding again and then all these problems look much smaller by comparison. But that means having policies in place that allow small businesses to do what they do best and that's to create jobs that provide incentives to invest and to hire people.

“Creating jobs, growing the economy ought to be our goal. That is so counterintuitive to think that raising taxes would somehow accomplish that goal.

“We're sitting here because we have twiddled our thumbs for month after month after month and here in the United States Senate not passed a budget, not dealt with this issue in any substantial or meaningful way, and now we're sitting here on New Year’s Eve.”