Bill Clinton: More immigrants and value-added tax will reduce deficit

The U.S. needs more immigrants and a value-added tax to help reduce the deficit, former President Bill Clinton said Friday.

Clinton said the country was "mortgaging out a lot of our sovereignty" by using foreign creditors to pay for an "exploding" debt.

His recipe? More growth and revenue, fueled by immigrant workers and a controversial value-added tax.

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"I think we're going to have to have more taxpayers, which is why I favor, in a disciplined way, immigration reform and letting more immigrants come to the country," Clinton told CNBC. "I think it would make more jobs for people who are unemployed, not fewer."

Second, Clinton said, more tax revenue could be collected by imposing a value-added tax, which taxes products at each stage of the manufacturing or distribution process.

"I think they ought to look at a progressive value-added tax, just because — and I think it's important the American people understand this — most of our competitors have tax systems like this," Clinton said.

"If you have a value-added tax ... you lower the income taxes, corporate and personal, and you put a little revenue collector on every stage of sales in a product or service, but if it is exported, you don't pay the last price," he added.

Such a tax would be "not easily evadable" and would make the U.S. more competitive, Clinton said.

Finally, Congress needs to reduce healthcare costs and show more fiscal discipline.

"We can't keep doubling the cost of health are after inflation every decade," Clinton said. "So my view is, control spending on an annual basis, work on healthcare costs, get more taxpayers and try to have the most competitive possible tax system. And eventually you've got to really enforce these pay-as-you-go rules."

Clinton suggested Democrats hadn't been as fiscally conservative as they should be, repeating his argument from earlier in the interview that the debt was "exploding."

"I simply don't think we can afford to keep exploding this debt. And I think you're going to — the Democrats, we're more socially progressive, but we're also going to have to be fiscally conservative, I think. I just don't think that it's fair for America to take any other course."