Sen. Charles Grassley tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview that the United States faces fiscal Armageddon because of the mammoth and growing national debt.
The Iowa Republican's comments on the country’s economic plight resonate on a day when Europe’s debt crisis dragged the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 389 points
. Also Wednesday, the S&P 500 lost 3.7 percent, its biggest one-day drop since August, after Italy's borrowing costs soared and talks collapsed in Greece on forming a new government.
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The United States’ total debt is about to surpass $15.21 trillion, marking the first time in modern history that the debt surpassed the nation’s economy. The country is joining a short list of nations, including Greece and Italy, whose debts are larger than 100 percent of their economies.
Asked whether he agrees the United States is on the precipice of a “fiscal Armageddon,” Grassley, former chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, responds: “Yes. We’re in trouble, and that’s proven by the rating agencies rating us down from Triple A to Double A. It’s a lesson to be learned.
Editor's Note: 50% Unemployment, 90% Stock Market Drop, 100% Inflation. See the Evidence.
“The most important thing is how quickly we got into the situation we’re in. For 50 years the national debt was about 35 percent of gross national product. Today it’s at 100 percent. But more importantly it’s on path to go to probably 125 percent in just a few years,” said Grassley, who was first elected in 1980.
Greece accounts for just 2 percent of Europe’s economy, while the United States accounts for 25 percent of the entire world economy, Grassley says, adding: “If Greece can cause all that trouble for Europe and the rest of the world, just think what would happen if the United States is the same position as Greece. This is catastrophic.”
Discussing the congressional supercommittee that is trying to reach an agreement on cutting the deficit by weighing tax increases and spending cuts, Grassley says: “I am absolutely opposed to increases in tax rates.
“I don’t know if they will succeed or not but right now it’s the only game in town, and if we don’t succeed it‘s going to be catastrophic,” Grassley says.
On another controversial issue, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, asserts that Attorney General Eric Holder’s “head must roll” if he is responsible for the Operation Fast and Furious gunrunning operation.
On Tuesday, Grassley grilled Holder about the program launched in 2009 by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — part of Holder’s Justice Department — in which guns were bought by straw purchasers, smuggled into Mexico, and later used in violent crimes at the border.
“This was a program set up by the federal government where we encouraged licensed gun dealers to knowingly sell guns illegally, then follow them across the border,” Grassley said in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV.
“The only thing is, they never followed them across the border.”
Holder has insisted he was not informed about the operation until after the scandal became public. Asked if he is telling the truth, Grassley responds: “If he’s telling the truth, then he’s not on top of some of the most important things happening in his department. And if he’s not on top of them he ought to be on top of them.
“If his acting deputy attorney general knew about this in the middle of last year, and that guy is now his chief of staff, he should have told him about it. If he didn’t then that’s not a very good relationship between the top two people in the department.
“We also know that memos were given to the attorney general in the middle of 2010, and he’s saying he didn’t read them.”
Although Grassley concedes that there is no evidence that Holder has obstructed an investigation of Operation Fast and Furious, he says there is “plenty of evidence that he should have known about it and should have intervened.”
The body of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was found in December near two Fast and Furious guns. Holder has expressed regret to Terry’s family but claims it’s not fair to assume that Fast and Furious led to his death.
The guns found near the scene of Terry’s death “obviously led to his murder, so I don’t buy that explanation whatsoever,” Grassley says.
He asserts that Holder should apologize to Terry’s family, not just express regret, adding: “Wouldn’t that be the humanitarian thing to do?”
Grassley was asked whether he agrees with several other Republicans who have called on Holder to resign.
“The head must roll of the person who actually said that this program must move forward,” he responds.
“I can’t say that’s Holder at this point. If it is Holder, then obviously I’m going to say he’s got to go. But whoever it is at the highest level of government, whether it’s in the Justice Department or the White House, we’ve got to get that person.”
As to what kind of carnage Americans can expect to see down the road as a result of the gunrunning operation, Grassley tells Newsmax: “What they’ve already seen in a year that we know of, besides Terry’s murder, is 11 other crime scenes where these guns were found.
“These guns are going to be around for decades, involved in crimes either in this country” or in Mexico.
Editor's Note: Also in the exclusive Newsmax interview, Sen. Grassley observes that the sexual-harassment allegations surrounding Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain could hurt his campaign in Iowa — Go Here Now.
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