POLITICS
12/01/2010 02:03 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Steny Hoyer: $13.7 Trillion Debt 'The Most Pressing Problem Confronting Our Country'

WASHINGTON -- House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Wednesday that the country's $13.7 trillion debt is "the most pressing problem confronting our country," praising President Obama's deficit commission for making an "important contribution" to finding a solution.

"I want to say that I believe the fiscal commission is making a very positive contribution," Hoyer told reporters at his weekly pen and pad session at the Capitol.

The Maryland Democrat said bringing down and ultimately eliminating the country's operating deficits "will not be easy," but added that the more informed the American public is as to "what the options are," the better.

The president's deficit-commission report, which was released Wednesday morning, suggests cutting tax rates for top earners and corporations, as well as gradually raising the full retirement age to 69, and the early retirement age to 64.

Hoyer said that while he doesn't necessarily agree with the commission's specific proposals, he appreciates the national dialogue they've sparked by presenting Americans with options.

This "does not mean that I endorse every suggestion that was made in the commission's report," Hoyer stressed. "I'm sure that the two co-chairs probably don't agree on everything." But, he added, the report sets forth alternatives on how we can get from where we are to where we need to be.

Of course, the country has plenty of other problems too.

We've also got security problems, Hoyer said, adding that we ought to pass the defense bill and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" reform as well as the food safety bill.

"There are many, many important issues," he concluded, "but in the long-term they will be impacted by our ability to return to a fiscally responsible path."

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