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Kind apologizes for debt showdown, lays out ‘path forward'

August 4, 2011
In The News

La Crosse Tribune

By Matt Christensen

Rep. Ron Kind returned to his district Wednesday after casting a last-minute vote to raise the debt ceiling. His first words back: I’m sorry.

“On behalf of all the government officials in Washington, let me apologize,” Kind said.

The deal reached just hours before the country was set to default on its debts was a missed opportunity to reduce the deficit and simultaneously grow the economy, cut unnecessary spending and raise additional revenue, the Democrat said.

Lawmakers in both parties are to blame, Kind said, for the political rancor that nearly resulted in default and a financial panic.

“It’s disheartening there was not more of an attitude of give-and-take,” he said.

Meeting with the Tribune’s editorial board, Kind said he doubts party leaders will ask him to serve on a “super committee” being formed as part of the debt ceiling deal to find additional deficit reductions. He is too moderate, he said.

Still, he outlined what he called a “path forward” to create jobs, improve health care efficiency, cut defense spending, reform agriculture subsidies and overhaul the tax code to create a more equitable system.

Discussing the plan and other topics, Kind said:

The country’s health care system needs to focus more on quality and less on volume. One in every three dollars spent in health care goes to patients who are readmitted for care. “We’re not getting a bang for our buck.”

Corporate America needs to put more of its money into the hands of workers to jumpstart the economy. “The reason businesses are reluctant to do anything is a lack of consumer demand.”

CEOs at many of the nation’s largest corporations are paying lower tax rates than their receptionists. “And that’s tough to justify.” Government needs to rework the tax code to level the playing field.

Lawmakers need to consider whether it makes sense to station more than 150,000 troops at bases in Europe or fund outdated weapons systems.