Some moderate Senate Democrats declined Monday to immediately weigh in on the deficit-reduction plan unveiled by President Obama at a Rose Garden news conference earlier in the day.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said that he was undecided on Obama’s proposal and that he preferred a plan that more closely followed the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles commission.
“We’ll see when it gets here,” Tester said of the Obama plan. “It’s not something I would’ve written. The blueprint I think that’s out there that’s a good blueprint is the one by the Simpson-Bowles commission. And the closer I think we can come to that – I mean, that was bipartisan in nature. It didn’t get the votes that were required of it, but it was pretty damn bipartisan.”
“I think it was a good, thoughtful document that I liked part of and didn’t like part of, and I think that’s what it’s going to take to get it done,” he added. “And it was significant, and it was big. So, I’ll reserve judgment on the president’s proposal; I just think that’s a better way to do it.”
Tester, who faces a tough reelection bid in 2012, said that he was particularly concerned about the effect the deficit plan would have on rural Americans.
“Everybody’s going to have to feel some pain; I just want to make sure rural America doesn’t feel more than the rest,” he said.
On the provisions calling for higher taxes on the wealthy, Tester said it depends on when those tax increases would take place – and that they should occur later rather than sooner.
“I welcome all ideas to the table so Congress can work together to create jobs, cut debt and cut spending, he added. “I supported the ideas behind the bipartisan deficit commission, I support the work of the bipartisan Gang of Six. I will continue to work on any bipartisan plan addressing the short-term and the long-term needs of our country. As we cut spending and cut debt, I do agree that our nation cannot afford to keep tax loopholes that benefit millionaires and corporations that ship jobs overseas. Everyone has to pay their fair share.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), another Democrat facing a tough race, also declined to weigh in on Obama’s plan Monday evening; he said that he needed to examine it and would have a statement Tuesday.
And Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who is running for reelection in 2012, said that he is not certain what Obama is proposing, Roll Call’s Steven Dennis reported Monday.
Republicans, meanwhile, were swift to criticize the plan.
“It’s sort of a sense of deja vu; it’s like the AMT all over again,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said. “The idea was to try to soak the rich and then 30 million taxpayers end up paying higher income taxes. So, I think it seems like a nonstarter.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said that he was “disappointed that (Obama) didn’t make a serious proposal which could’ve enhanced the deficit-reduction committee’s work.”
“Instead, he chose to punt,” Corker said. “I guess now we have to rely on the deficit committee itself, but it is really disappointing that he’s chosen again not to make a serious proposal.”