By Jay Heflin - 08/25/10 08:00 PM EDT
"You start making a dent in this unbelievable growing federal budget deficit," he said, adding, "I think [you do it] through two things. One, tighten our belt, cut spending. And No. 2, get some revenue back into the system. The people at the very top of the economic ladder can well afford to pay the rates they paid in the 1990s when they had the best economic growth in this country."
The Bush tax cuts that were enacted in 2001 are scheduled to expire at the end of this year. Dorgan argues the tax cuts were responsible for reducing the budget surplus of the 1990s to record level deficits now.
"When President Bush came in, he said, 'look, we are going to have surpluses for the next 10 years. Now we need to cut revenue in order to give the surpluses back to the people.' It turns out there weren't any surpluses," Dorgan said.
Allowing the top rates to expire would provide about $800 billion in deficit relief over a 10-year period.
"It is a substantial amount of money," Dorgan said.
The senator's state is also suffering one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, at about 3.6 percent compared to the 9.5 percent for the nation overall. He also hinted that wealthier taxpayers in his state would rather reduce the deficit than continue to receive the tax cuts that are currently in law.
"I think people in my state and around the country want this deficit tamed," he said. "We aren't going to tame the deficit by continuing tax cuts that were supposed to be for returning surpluses; there are no surpluses."