PORTLAND — Sen. Olympia Snowe called for an overhaul to the nation’s tax structure and reforms to what she described as stifling business regulations at a business breakfast this morning at the Holiday Inn by The Bay.

“We need to foster economic expansion that will expand the private sector, not the size of government … We are at a tipping point,” Snowe told a crowd of several hundred attendees at the event, which was sponsored by the Portland Community Chamber.

Snowe said the nation’s problems are many, noting the stagnant economy and high unemployment rate, which has been at or above 9 percent for 27 of the last 32 months.

She said Congress continues to struggle to pass meaningful reforms, emphasized the threat of the federal budget deficit and criticized the federal government for being “expansionist,” noting the far-reaching impact of new legislation like the health care bill.

Meanwhile, she said, China’s economy is on a path to surpass the U.S. economy in five years.

“This is not the American people’s vision for America. This should be the call to arms,” Snowe said.

Snowe outlines a three-part plan to improve the country. She called for a constitutional amendment that would require a federal balanced budget, a move she said would bring financial stability to the government and continuity between sessions of Congress.

She also called for regulatory reform, calling regulations an “albatross around this economy.”

In addition, Snowe appealed for a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s tax system, though she did not discuss specifics.

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