Transcript: Senate hearing Q&A with Sen. Tom Carper & Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on the debt ceiling – Oct. 10, 2013

Partial transcript of Q&A between Sen. Tom Carper (D-Delaware) and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on the potential impacts of the failure to raise the debt ceiling. The Senate Finance Committee hearing was held on Oct. 10, 2013:

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Delaware):
…The problem here is pretty simple: Democrats need to support entitlement reforms. It saves money, saves these programs in the long haul, and is consistent with our obligation to look out for the least of the least. That’s what we need to do. Republicans need to embrace tax reform that provides some certainty, predictability for businesses and for investors in this country but at the same time generates some revenues.

We go back to those four years at the end of the Clinton administration when we had four balanced budgets in a row, revenues as a percentage of gross domestic product – right around 20% – all four years. Those four years – spending as a percentage of gross domestic product was right around 20%.

Our deficit is down from – it peaked at about four years ago – at $1.4 trillion. Last year, the year that ended about 10 days ago, the deficit was about $700 billion. We cut it in half. Is that enough? No, it’s not enough. We need to do more.

But we can’t do more unless we do entitlement reform – over half of our spending is entitlement spending – and we can’t do more unless we generate some revenues.

The problem here is – what was that old line in the movie – what we have is a failure to communicate? We’re really talking past each other. I talk to people all the time. People who have a lot of money and I tell them they’re going to have to pay some more taxes, and they say, “I don’t mind paying more taxes; I don’t want you to waste my money.” I don’t want to waste your money either. I don’t think any of us do.

Tom Coburn, who used to serve in this committee, and I have introduced legislation called the PRIME Act and we go at entitlement programs, not just savage old people and poor people, not to hurt the least of the least, but actually save money and preserve these programs for the long haul…The idea that we can’t somehow meet our moral imperative and also meet our fiscal imperative, that’s a fiction. We can do both…

…There’s a matter of trust here. I don’t know how to break through it. I really don’t know how to break through it. Any ideas?

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew:
I think the kinds of conversations that he’s having are meant to try to rebuild some of the trust, to make it clear that once we get beyond where we are right now, once Congress re-opens the government and takes away the threat of default, he has been and remains open to honorable compromise, which means give and take. But it has to be a two-way street, and that’s always been the case with any negotiation.

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One Comment on “Transcript: Senate hearing Q&A with Sen. Tom Carper & Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on the debt ceiling – Oct. 10, 2013

  1. Pingback: Debt Ceiling: Short-term Treasury yields nearly triples due to debt limit brinksmanship | What The Folly?!

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