In his first House speech, Stewart calls for fiscal courage
Politics • The new Utahn in Congress takes to the floor to warn of ‘‘tipping point.’’
Published: January 16, 2013 10:33AM
Updated: May 5, 2013 11:32PM
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Scott Sommerdorf | Tribune file photo Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah.

Washington • In his first speech from the House floor, freshman Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, called for the nation to “reclaim the moral and fiscal discipline” that made the United States a superpower with a burgeoning middle class.

Stewart gave his four-minute address late Tuesday night, calling the ongoing debate over the nation’s deepening debt “a tipping point in our history,” warning that a bankrupt nation can’t protect its people, care for the needy or provide for its children.

“I really believe we are at one of those inflection points at which we will decide our future,” he said.

Stewart, who represents Utah’s 2nd Congressional District, also called for compassion, saying that word not only implies preserving the nation’s social safety net but making it financially stronger, a direct appeal to Democrats who have resisted changes to Social Security and Medicare.

“Where is the compassion in creating so much uncertainty that our own children no longer have faith in their futures or in the social safety net that has been there for previous generations?” Stewart asked rhetorically. “If you believe in compassion and fairness, then help us fix these problems.”

Stewart conceded that President Barack Obama “won” the battle over a tax increase on the wealthy, but said the proceeds, roughly $60 billion each year, only makes a minimal dent in the nation’s growing national debt, which now tops $16 trillion.

Stewart said it would take courage for the nation’s political leaders to wrestle that debt to a sustainable level.

“That,” he said, “is the only thing that can save us.”

mcanham@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mattcanham