Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., says he will not vote to raise the nation’s debt ceiling unless Congress and President Barack Obama take action that is “tough and real to lower the debt long term.” Lieberman, noting Wednesday the harsh tone of statements made after Obama’s speech on the fiscal crisis, also told Fox News’ Neal Cavuto he could vote to raise taxes on the wealthy, but only as part of a comprehensive deficit-reduction plan.
“Well, cooler heads better prevail, or the whole country is going to suffer, because we are on a financially unsustainable course,” Lieberman said. “The good news in the president’s speech is that he is fully engaged and committed now to deficit and debt reduction — he offered a plan.”
Cavuto, who noted Lieberman has the ear of both Republicans and Democrats because of stances he has taken as an Independent, asked whether he would vote to eliminate the Bush-era tax cuts.
“I think you have got to be open. I could vote for tax increases on higher-income people as part of an overall debt-reduction program, because everybody has got to contribute something to bringing our country back into balance,” Lieberman replied. “But I am also pretty practical about it. We have got to get something done this year. In my opinion, we have got to at least adopt some ground rules with teeth in them before we vote to increase the debt ceiling.”
Lieberman predicted although there will be no more midnight fiscal showdowns, like the stalemate that almost led to the government shutdown on April 8, final votes will come close, as the clock ticks down.
“The stuff we have to do to get our government back in balance is so painful, so politically difficult, that, unfortunately, my prediction is we will come to a series of just-before-midnight deadlines,” he said. “And if we all keep the national interest in mind — if we lower the tone of our voices, and be willing to compromise — we can get something great done for the country that, in fact, will make all of us more politically popular back home.
“I think the debt ceiling is important, because it’s a forcing mechanism,” Lieberman added. “And I, for one, am not going to vote to increase the debt ceiling unless we do something tough and real to lower the debt long term.”
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