Sen. Kelly Ayotte addressed a small crowd of local business leaders in Windham on Thursday. (APRIL GUILMET)
Sen. Ayotte says nation's financial situation is dire
Ayotte was the featured speaker during Thursday's luncheon hosted by the New England Council at the Castleton Conference Center in Windham.
During her half-hour speech, the Republican senator said the situation is dire, as the nation remains nearly $17 trillion in debt.
Emphasizing the need for a large fiscal deal to address the problem, Ayotte said she felt a solution would be hard to come by because "the two sides (Democrats and Republicans) are pretty far apart in terms of their vision for this country."
During a recent Senate budget exercise, Democrats passed a non-binding budget that Ayotte said she "simply couldn't support" as it included $1 trillion in tax increases.
"It wasn't in the parameters of what I could support," Ayotte added.
She voiced her distaste of sequestration and her disapproval of taxes on medical devices.
Ayotte said the proposed 2.3 percent tax on such devices was intended to help fund the Affordable Care Act, but ultimately "taxes innovation and entrepreneurship."
"Sequestration doesn't deal with mandatory spending, and overall huge parts of our spending are left off the table," she added.
The senator warned that if nothing changes, Social Security would be bankrupt by 2033, with Medicare facing bankruptcy as soon as 2024.
"It's simple," she said. "If we don't make responsible changes now, those programs aren't going to be what they are today. Many people rely on those programs and this future isn't all that far away."
The numbers just don't add up, Ayotte further noted. On average, an American family puts approximately $119,000 into the Medicare system over the course of their lifetime, and takes out $357,000.
One solution she's in favor of, Ayotte said, would be to raise the retirement age over time.
"There's a finite number of ideas we should be exploring," she added. "So for all of you who are business leaders, you need to share your opinions. It's my hope we get there sooner rather than later.
"We need to make sure America remains the best place to do business," Ayotte continued. "A big piece of this puzzle is in all of you. To get ourselves out of debt, we need to put ourselves on the right fiscal path and grow our economy."