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Deficit Reduction: Democrat Warner, Republican Chambliss Push for Plan

4 years ago
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Conservative Republican Saxby Chambliss and moderate Democrat Mark Warner are determined to keep hope alive when it comes to shrinking the nation's budget deficit -- and taking a hard look at the controversial recommendations of the president's deficit-cutting panel.

"The way you do it is put everything on the table," Chambliss said last week to reporters from the Washington Post and other news outlets. "It is critically important to get a plan in place in the next 12 months."

Warner (D-Va.) and Chambliss (R-Ga.) have formed an ad hoc "working group" that includes at least 20 senators, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "I'm not sure yet whether we're going to do a package, or if there's just some rifle shots to be fired," Chambliss told the newspaper. ". . . But when we get back [in January], we're going to be ready to move." And, the second-term senator told the Post, "We're not starting with folks on the far right or the far left taking shots at this. We're starting with a group that's in the middle, and we're growing out."

Saxby ChamblissThe attempt to frame a deficit-cutting plan that can win approval on Capitol Hill follows the report on Dec. 1 of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Those recommendations for cutting and pinching government spending in the face of trillion dollar-plus annual deficits took plenty of hits from the political left and right.

The report was approved 11-7 by the president's panel, but that was three votes short of the 14 needed to guarantee consideration by Congress. The commission called for reductions in defense spending, gradually raising the retirement age for Social Security, rolling back the home mortgage deduction and numerous other cuts bound to offend one special interest or another.

Warner and Chambliss want to use that report as a starting point for what might be legislatively doable on Capitol Hill. It is important, Chambliss said, to get a plan in place next year -- before the onset of the political pressures of the 2012 presidential election campaign. In the meantime, Warner said the informal group has agreed to a "cease-fire on immediately criticizing each other's ideas."

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