Overdue Belt-Tightening in Washington? A Senator and Citizens W - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Overdue Belt-Tightening in Washington? A Senator and Citizens Weigh In

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Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
James Willis, Texas James Willis, Texas
Jim Coles, Bismarck Jim Coles, Bismarck
Adam Stonestreet, Bismarck Adam Stonestreet, Bismarck
Jack Alan, Bismarck Jack Alan, Bismarck

"Government spending, it's got to be cut.  It's got to," says James Willis of Texas.  

Everybody seems to know about it.   But knowing what to do is the problem.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, "the unsustainable nature of the federal government's current tax and spending policies presents lawmakers and the public with difficult choices."  (www.cbo.gov/publication/44521)

The public is looking to lawmakers to do something.  Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) says we should first deal with waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicare program, which could account for billions.

"The second answer is start evaluating all these programs. I'm on the leave nothing behind -- really begin the process of completely examining whether, in fact, the program is essential, whether it's necessary, or whether that is waste," says Senator Heitkamp.

From public broadcasting to the energy industry, and urban transit to foreign aid and much, much more, the federal government subsidizes individuals, businesses and non-profits.  But what if you were in charge?  Where would you cut federal spending?

"Spending on foreign countries.  We need to spend more money on affairs in this country rather than on foreign affairs," Jack Alan, Bismarck.

"I think a good way to approach it would be actually to look at a broad spectrum of programs, not any one particular program, and try and find some spots, like any program, there's going to be some waste, excessive spending," says Jim Coles, Bismarck.

"I think that we need to focus less on overseas spending and focus more on the issues that we have going on here at home," says Adam Stonestreet, Bismarck.

"There's no way here in North Dakota can anyone tell you 'I've got to be on welfare because I can't find a job.'  Give the man a fish and he'll eat for a day.  Teach him to fish and he'll eat the rest of his life," says Willis.

But has spending grown beyond Washington's ability to do something?

"We cannot afford this.  A one percent increase on the interest on our debt will cost us over a trillion dollars in ten years, and we aren't going to see and be able to maintain low interest rates.  I think that's clear.  So when people say debt and deficit don't matter, they're absolutely wrong," says Senator Heitkamp.

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