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Will Obama and Republicans reach a budget deal?

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

SENS. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R-Ga.) andMARK WARNER (D-Va.)

We have confidence that there ultimately will be a budget agreement to fund the current operations of government. Of greater concern is whether those of us who serve in Washington will find common ground on a longer-range plan to rein in deficits and debt.

Since this economic downturn began, families across America have had to make tough choices to make ends meet. It is time for Washington to do the same. Unfortunately, the current debate is centered on domestic discretionary spending, so even drastic cuts to some programs will not address our overall debt crisis.

That's why we have been working since last summer to forge a bipartisan coalition in the Senate that's committed to act this year to address our deficits and debt. We now are working to turn the recommendations of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform into legislation.

The simple fact is, every dollar spent servicing our nation's staggering $14 trillion debt is a dollar that cannot be channeled into creating jobs, expanding our economy or other priorities.

The deficit commission's report represents a courageous first step in tackling our national debt and reforming our tax code in ways that make our nation competitive for the 21st century. It would lower tax rates and simplify a system in need of an overhaul. It puts everything on the table, including entitlement spending and defense. The commission laid out a plan to strengthen and protect Social Security for the next 75 years, and that needs to be part of this discussion as well.

Every day that we put off these difficult decisions, more than $4 billion is added to the national debt. While there are plenty of recommendations in the commission's plan that we would not have chosen, one thing is clear to both of us: Our nation will be far better off with a comprehensive deficit reduction plan than without one.

MAYA MACGUINEAS

President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Here's how it could happen: After a lot of harrumphing, the two parties agree that the fiscal situation has to be fixed and what should be achieved as a prerequisite for increasing the debt ceiling (though not necessarily how to do it). Let's say they agree that until a plan is passed to reduce the debt to 60 percent of gross domestic product by the end of the decade and stabilize it thereafter, the debt ceiling is increased only in three-month increments. So, no more punts.


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