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GOP Weekly Address: Sen. Thune on Creating a Clear Federal Spending Blueprint

United States Senate(WASHINGTON) -- With the fiscal cliff debate nearly a month behind us, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., says now is the time to address "the real cause of Washington's fiscal mess -- out-of-control spending."

"Washington is addicted to spending your money," Thune says of the growing national debt, which now totals more than $16 trillion.

In this week's Republican address, Thune urges Congress to approve a federal budget, complete with a "clear spending blueprint" and plans for entitlement reforms.

Recalling Standard & Poor's decision to downgrade the U.S. credit rating in 2011, Thune warns that if progress is not made on spending reforms, more downgrades are likely to follow.

"If the United States' credit rating is further downgraded, our country will pay higher interest rates. This will mean trillions of  borrowing in order for America to pay its bills," he cautions.

"The only way -- the only way -- to dig ourselves out of this hole and put our country on a sound financial footing is to get spending under control," Thune says, adding, "And the way to start is by passing a budget."

Thune acknowledges that creating a budget will mean that the government will face tough decisions, particularly when discussing what reforms must be made.

"There's rarely enough money to pay for everything, so you have to decide where your priorities lie, and allocate money accordingly," he says.

One thing Thune makes clear is that a plan for entitlement reforms "to save and protect Social Security and Medicare" must be a part of any budget debate.

"These programs are in trouble, and they're on an unsustainable path," he says. "Social Security began running a deficit in 2010, and without meaningful reform, Medicare will be bankrupt by 2024," Thune says, claiming Democrats "have resisted any discussion of reform."

Still, Thune says it's not too late to fix these problems.

"If we act now, we can put our nation back on a sound financial footing and preserve the promise of economic prosperity for future generations," he says.

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