Alexander hopes U.S. is ready to 'do what's necessary'
Written by Jeff Matthews, The Town Talk
U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La. speaks Thursday at the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Alexandria. Said Alexander: I hope we’re getting to the point where we’ll do what’s necessary to get our country back on an even keel." / Tia Owens-Powers / firstname.lastname@example.org
The federal government is past the point where officials in Washington, D.C., should act to change its path, U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander says.
“Winston Churchill said, ‘You can always count on Americans to do what’s right — after they’ve tried everything else,’” Alexander, R-Quitman, told members of the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce on Thursday. “Well, we’re trying everything. I hope we’re getting to the point where we’ll do what’s necessary to get our country back on an even keel.”
Alexander delivered a message familiar to those who have followed him in his decade in Congress — the federal government has grown too large and is overtaxing citizens to sustain its spending habits.
Specifically, he addressed two issues likely to spur controversy over the next few months — automatic cuts to government spending if Congress fails to resolve the budget crisis and the expiration of several tax cuts.
Both will take effect at the start of next year if Congress does not act after the November elections.
Government is facing the automatic spending cuts — known as “sequestration” — because of the failure last year of a congressional panel to come up with a plan to cut the deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years.
While Republican and Democratic leaders disagree on the right measures to stave off the automatic cuts, some reports show potential dire consequences for the U.S. economy if they happen.
“You’re talking about a trillion dollars' worth of cuts,” Alexander said. “You might ask, ‘Is that bad?’ It wouldn’t be bad in some areas; it would be bad in others. When you do across-the-board cuts, some worthwhile programs are going to get cut. The good and the bad programs suffer the same.”
Tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush in 2003 and extended under President Barack Obama in 2010 are set expire on Dec. 31. Alexander favors extending the cuts, and is particularly riled by an impending rise in estate taxes.
Currently, that tax is at 35 percent with a $5 million exemption per estate. On Jan. 1, the rate will jump to 55 percent with a $1 million exemption.
“The hardest thing for me to understand is why the federal government wants to take away what a man and woman worked their whole lives to build and want to leave to their children and grandchildren,” he said.
Alexander portrayed a “frustrating” climate in Washington, where people are reluctant to propose new ideas to save money for fear of criticism.
“We have to make some tough decisions and I’m willing to do that,” Alexander said, pointing to his willingness to break with conservatives by considering cuts to the military. “I believe everything should be on the table if we’re looking at getting a handle on the outrageous spending habits of Congress.”