He announced on the Senate floor that he opposes efforts by some conservatives to tie a debt-limit vote to congressional passage of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
“I applaud my colleagues for their tireless dedication to this cause,” McCain said, noting that over the past 18 years, he has personally introduced or co-sponsored more than a dozen measures calling for a balanced budget amendment. “But our reality today dictates that we simply do not have the votes in this body to enact such a measure.
“Perhaps that will change after next year,” he continued. “I certainly hope it does. But for our purposes today – in order to avoid what could be disastrous consequences for our markets, our economy as a whole and our standing in the world, I encourage my colleagues to lay aside, at least temporarily, their insistence that amending the Constitution be a condition of their support for a solution to this terrible problem.”
McCain’s remarks follow similar comments Wednesday by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who told reporters at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing that he would not sign onto a “cut, cap and balance” pledge promoted by some Republicans in both chambers and a host of conservative groups.
McCain used his floor remarks Wednesday to make several other points on the debt-limit debate. He called on President Obama to allow C-SPAN cameras to broadcast Thursday’s planned White House meeting on the debt ceiling, arguing that “Americans have the right to know how their elected representatives are dealing with an issue of such importance to the future prosperity of this nation.”
“The president committed to doing so in the health-care debate – but it never happened,” McCain said. “This is another chance for the president and Congress to provide some transparency to the American public – it will be regrettable if they do not seize this opportunity.”
He also read from a Wall Street Journal editorial on Wednesday calling for lawmakers and the White House to offset the cost of closing certain tax loopholes by cutting tax rates elsewhere.
“I completely agree, and we should be open-minded when considering what should be eliminated,” McCain said, citing energy subsidies as one area where the current tax code has had a “distorting effect.”
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