Hagan: More issues to resolve
FOREST CITY — Now that one financial crisis has seemingly been averted, the job is not done.
At least not according to U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-North Carolina.
Hagan, in a teleconference with reporters Thursday, said that Congress still has many other financial issues to take up, including spending cuts.
The recent deal, signed by President Barack Obama, puts off automatic across-the-board cuts to defense and other domestic agencies for two months, also known as sequestration.
Hagan said that Congress now has a few weeks "to work on a plan that we desperately need."
She said that her focus, regarding cuts, include cuts made to the Department of Defense.
"Cuts to defense is certainly not how this should be done," Hagan said, "We need to make sure that our troops are taken care of and our country is not left unprepared in the future."
The most recent deal, passed by Congress on Tuesday, not only holds off on cutting $12 billion in spending, but also enacts tax increases for individuals making over $400,000 and families with income over $450,000. In a report from The Associated Press, those increases are expected to bank nearly $620 billion over the next decade.
The deal also renewed long-term unemployment benefits for a year and halted a tax increase on the middle class.
Among the other issues Hagan said that Congress will have to contend with include tax reform and entitlement program funding.
In addition, in 60 days Congress will also have to tackle the issue of the nation's debt ceiling and whether or not to raise the borrowing limit of the federal government. Republicans have balked at approving a debt ceiling increase without a cut in federal spending. The current debt ceiling for the federal government is $16.4 trillion.
"The issue about the debt ceiling is something we need to look at in a different light because it is already money that has been allocated and spent," Hagan said. "It would be like charging on your Visa and deciding not to repay it."
Another issue is that a continuing resolution regarding the operation of the federal government is set to expire in March.
Hagan said that any further negotiations on any fiscal issues has to be bipartisan and cannot wait until the last minute, as with the latest round of talks between Republicans and Obama.
"I certainly do agree with most in North Carolina for Congress to wait past the 11th hour to come together," Hagan said. "We teach our children to work together and we should certainly lead by example."
As new members of Congress were being sworn in on Thursday, Hagan said that she plans to reach out to "as many new members" as she can to discuss deals on any upcoming financial legislation.