Two days after called on President Barack Obama for a plan to get the nation's fiscal house in order, he gave conditional praise to the outline of a bipartisan proposal that does just that.
The idea, which drew immediate positive reaction from when it was introduced to the Senate floor Tuesday, is the product of months of work in the Senate by a group known as the Gang of Six, which includes Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Springfield).
Reducing the government deficit by nearly $4 trillion over the next 10 years, the Senate proposal suggests deep spending cuts and additional revenue through changes to the tax laws. In addition to Durbin, the authors are Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Sen. Michael Crapo (R-ID), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND).
All of this is going on in the face of an August 2 deadline to increase the country’s debt limit or face default on its financial obligations.
“[The Gang of Six is] creating a vital center on what is the most important issue facing the country,” Kirk said on the Senate floor. “This will dramatically reassure the American people, our markets and especially our allies overseas that a free people and their elected representatives can kick their spending habit over time.”
Dold cautiously optimistic
Dold, who voted in favor of a House bill to cut long term spending and initiate a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget while Kirk was speaking in the Senate, expressed cautious optimism, according to Communications Director Stefani Zimmerman.
“The Congressman is encouraged by this bold, bipartisan plan that saves trillions of dollars,” Zimmerman said. “At this time the plan lacks specific details, but when those are made available he will be reviewing them to learn more.”
Kirk sees the ideas of the Gang of Six not just as a bipartisan effort, but a move away from the divisive politics of recent years.
“This may be the rise of the policy wonks as opposed to the partisans of either side to actually address the details of what is the most solid financial problem facing the country,” Kirk said. “This is the most creative and detailed plan I have yet seen to solve this problem.”
Cut, cap and balance
The legislation in the House, which has been called “cut, cap and balance,” not only reduces spending but uses no increased revenue to balance the budget or reduce borrowing. It also requires a two-thirds majority to increase taxes in the future.
Dold sees it as the beginning of a final deal.
“I believe it is important to put forward a plan and demonstrate to the American people how we propose to rein in spending and pay down the skyrocketing debt without Washington defaulting on its obligations,” Dold said. He also spoke in favor of the proposal on the House floor.
voted against the proposal. She fears it will cost 700,000 American jobs and could lead to “devastating” cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. She sees the legislation as partisan politics.
“The bill is just another example of their (Republican) efforts to hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage in order to implement their extreme right-wing agenda,” Schakowsky said.
While Kirk is willing to accept the increased revenue aspects of the Gang of Six plan, Schakowsky is critical of the House Republican refusal to not only consider the idea but handcuff future Congresses from making what may be necessary decisions.
“They insist on protecting tax cuts for hedge fund managers and millionaires and are willing to sacrifice seniors and the middle class in order to do it,” Schakowsky said of the Cut, Cap and Balance bill. “It has no chance of becoming law.”