Andrew Oberstar

Letter to Representatives - Fiscal Cliff

December 02, 2012

I wanted to post the message I sent to my representatives (Representative McCollum, Senator Franken, and Senator Klobuchar) and urge everyone, regardless of your position, to contact your representatives to let your voice be heard on the significant issue of our national debt and the upcoming “fiscal cliff”.

I am writing today about the problem of addressing our deficit situation and averting the “fiscal cliff”. I believe that the key to a solution is a long-term vision of a minimal debt and generally balanced budgets. I am a lifelong Minnesotan and traditionally vote Democrat, but I also consider myself fiscally conservative.

I very much appreciate your statements of taking a balanced approach that includes both revenue increases and spending cuts. I consider the $1.3 trillion deficit and $359 billion interest payment on our debt in FY2012 to be a travesty. I believe very strongly that the only way to address this issue is to think big. This means holding nothing sacred in these negotiations and considering spending cuts to very expensive (and popular) benefits such as Social Security and Medicare. I am in favor of these safety nets, but their benefits need to be realistically balances with our financial ability to pay for them. However, what seems to be the biggest untouchable is the defense budget. We no longer fight (nor have any reasonable expectation of fighting) a traditional war, yet we spend over $1 trillion on defense. I’m not saying we have no enemies, but the enemies we do have require a vastly different (and I believe much less expensive) type of military.

I also firmly agree with you that the rich should pay a larger portion of the tax burden, though I think a long-term solution is going to have to go beyond increasing tax rates. Having $1 trillion dollars in tax expenditures this year is absurd. While reducing or limiting deductions will help, it won’t get us all of the way, which is where raising rates comes in. However, it may help to compromise by considering a smaller raise than letting the Bush cuts expire would result in.

I urge you to avoid short-term solutions by thinking big in your continued fight for a debt solution that goes beyond deficit reduction and to address debt reduction. I appreciate your work on this issue, and would be very interested to see more detail on your position.

Sincerely, Andrew Oberstar