Hello. I'm Kelly Ayotte — a U.S. Senator from New Hampshire.
We've had a spirited debate this year about the future of our country.
And one thing is clear: the American people expect Republicans and Democrats to work together to solve the difficult challenges we face.
For too long, partisan bickering has paralyzed Washington—preventing members of both parties from reaching across the aisle to find common ground. That must stop. Power sharing is an opportunity—not an obstacle. And getting our fiscal house in order is where we need to start.
Out-of-control deficits stand to bankrupt our country—casting a shadow of debt that will rob future generations of the American Dream. As the mother of two children, I won't let that happen.
Washington can't keep ducking the tough decisions. And the "fiscal cliff" we're headed toward provides an opportunity for both parties to change our country's irresponsible spending path.
In just over a month, tax rates that have been in place for more than a decade are set to increase. And automatic, across the board spending reductions will kick in—cutting funding for everything from our troops to federal cancer research.
Failure to stop this combination of tax hikes and arbitrary spending cuts threatens to throw our country's economy back into recession—at a time when millions are still out of work. This is a test we cannot fail.
We can reduce the deficit without harming our economy. But it will take bipartisan cooperation to get there.
For example, everyone agrees that nearly $500 billion in additional defense cuts stand to hollow out our military and cost jobs. In fact, the President's own Secretary of Defense has said that these reductions would "inflict severe damage to our national defense for generations."
Our troops and their families aren't the only ones who will be impacted. America's private defense suppliers are set to take a hit that could cost one million defense jobs. These companies are critical to America's national security, supplying our military with advanced weapons and technology.
I've spent much of this year highlighting the need to find alternative savings in the budget to replace these cuts. In doing so, I've made it clear that this issue requires presidential leadership. Last month, the President pledged that sequestration won't happen—to avoid it, we need his active engagement.
When it comes to taxes, Republicans and Democrats agree that the current federal tax code is broken. And both sides recognize the importance of closing egregious tax loopholes that pick winners and losers.
Tax reform that eliminates wasteful tax preferences to generate revenue will help bring fairness and efficiency to our tax system. This approach makes more sense than raising tax rates—which will harm nearly a million small businesses and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.
As a reminder, just two years ago, President Obama said that raising taxes would be unwise given the weakness of our recovery. That's as true now as it was then.
Finally, both parties recognize the need to strengthen and preserve our entitlement programs—which represent the main drivers of America's crushing, runaway debt.
Seniors like my grandparents depend on Medicare and Social Security for a dignified retirement. It's up to us to ensure that these programs are there for future beneficiaries.
But right now, the non-partisan trustees in charge of Medicare and Social Security say that they're headed for insolvency as early as 2024 and 2033, respectively.
One thing is clear: doing nothing is not an option. And any effort to address our fiscal crisis without including entitlement reform can't be taken seriously.
A generation ago, at a time of divided government, Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill bridged their differences to preserve Social Security. Some 30 years later, we find ourselves in a similar situation—with a Democratic President and a Republican House Speaker. If it could be done then, it can be done now.
It will take courage to address the serious fiscal challenges our country faces. But Americans always come together to solve tough problems. And, for the good of the nation, now is the time for both parties to bring their best ideas to the table.
As we count our blessings this Thanksgiving, may we all remain mindful that we live in the greatest nation on Earth. What unites us will always be stronger than what divides us. We are Americans first. And as Americans we'll rise to this challenge.
Thank you. May God bless our country.