Ayotte Speaks Frankly at Hudson Town Meeting
November 1, 2013
by Lynne Ober
U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte met with New Hampshire residents at Hudson Memorial School last week. When she arrived, she was wearing a Boston Red Sox hat, which she joked she had put on for the first game, which the Sox won, “and now I’m not taking it off until the Sox win the World Series.”
There were nearly 100 residents gathered to hear her speak and then participate in the question and answer period after her talk. Prior to the schedule beginning time for the Town Meeting, Ayotte posed for pictures with attendees.
When the program started, Ayotte pointed to one of the large screens at the front of the room. “That is my debt calculator,” she said. “The federal government spends $10 million a day and has to borrow $2 million every day. You can watch the debt calculator and see our country’s debt go up and up.”
Ayotte painted a bleak fiscal picture. Beginning with the current year’s budget, she said, “This is one milestone we never wanted to meet,” stating that in the current fiscal year alone there’s an anticipated budget deficit of $759 billion.
She wanted to help the audience understand the magnitude of our country’s debt. “The 2013 deficit alone could pay all of the 2013 salaries of every Major League Baseball player for the next 248 years,” but that wasn’t all, “It could purchase the newest iPhone for half of the world’s population or buy a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee for every American every day for four years.”
Although the economy is recovering from a recession, Ayotte pointed out the loss of jobs. “Our labor force participation rate is at its lowest since 1978. We still have 21.5 million Americans that are either unemployed or underemployed right now.”
The future doesn’t offer much hope according to Ayotte, “If we stay on the path we’re headed, our debt will reach $25 trillion in the next decade. In Washington, we’ve done a very good job at kicking the can down the road.”
According to Ayotte just over 60 percent of government spending is on mandatory programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which she characterized as promises that the government was made and “that we need to keep.”
The recent 16-day government shutdown cost an estimated $2.2 billion, according to Ayotte, who said that every shutdown always cost more than keeping government open and that’s why she worked to bring an end to the shutdown.
At the end of her prepared remarks, she opened the floor to questions. State Senator Sharon Carson, using cards filled out by audience members, called people to speak. Questions revolved around a number of items from veteran support for those who have been hurt during serving, to Bengazi and to concern about the future of the country for the generation of American children growing up now.
In response, Ayotte provided thoughtful answers. She said that in the 1970s that 6 percent of our country’s debt was owned by foreign countries, but in 2012, China alone held 48 percent of our debt. This was a great concern to Ayotte, who commented that the federally elected officials should have a balanced budget law much as the one in New Hampshire. “We cannot continue in this fashion.” Ayotte also pointed out that the proposed Republican budget which did not pass was not balanced either. She said that it called for a much lower amount of borrowing to pay bills, but still required additional borrowing. “There was a $5 trillion difference between the House passed budget and the Senate passed budget.”
By 2026 Medicare will be insolvent. By 2016, the Social Security Disability fund will be insolvent and by 2033, Social Security will be insolvent. “In 1950 there were 16.5 workers to one recipient, but in 2010, there were only 2.5 workers for every social security recipient.”
Ayotte also discussed Obamacare and highlighted the more than 25 current pieces of legislation she has for changing it. She expressed concern that individual people would be fined for not signing up when the problem was that the computer system was not adequate to allow everyone to sign up. “We worked for over an hour in my office one day and could not get one person signed up. I have asked the president to give individuals the same year delay as he has given businesses. I don’t want to see individuals fined because they didn’t sign up.”
Ayotte thanked everyone for coming, urged people with issues to contact her office. “We help with individual issues as well as work on national legislation,” she smiled.