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Kerry: To balance budget, we must reform revenue, taxes, spending and entitlements

By Sahil Kapur
Wednesday, March 9, 2011 10:18 EDT
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WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said Tuesday that “revenue, tax reform, spending and entitlements” must all be on the table when considering ways to trim the deficit, as Congress heads for a showdown over the budget.

“The American people deserve a serious dialogue about our fiscal situation, discretionary spending, entitlements, and revenues,” Kerry said on the Senate floor while discussing budget negotiations. “We need a long-term solution to reduce both our current budget deficit and our staggering debt.”

“To do this, we’ll need to reduce federal spending and make appropriate changes to our entitlement programs. To do it right, everything – revenue, tax reform, spending and entitlements – must be on the table. We must find a way to share the sacrifices necessary to balance our budget while making the kind of investments that will create new industries and jobs.”

The Senate will vote Wednesday on two budget measures to avert a government shutdown, which would occur on March 18 if no deal is struck. One is the recently-approved House bill that slashes spending by over $60 billion, and the other is a White House-championed measure that cuts $6.5 billion. Neither is expected to pass.

Kerry’s comments that entitlements should be “on the table” put him at odds with House and Senate Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi (CA) and Sen. Harry Reid (NV), both of whom say Social Security cuts must remain off the table.

The remarks come at a time when Democrats are hammering the new Republican House majority for considering drastic cuts to Social Security and Medicare. A proposal by budget committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), supported by key Republicans, would largely privatize Social Security and turn Medicare into a program of vouchers whose value diminishes over time.

A handful of top Democrats, notably Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and James Clyburn (D-SC), have suggested reducing Social Security payouts by incrementally increasing the retirement age.

Watch Kerry’s speech yesterday on the Senate floor below:

 
 
 
 
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