With time running short to resolve the impasse on raising the debt ceiling, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman said Wednesday that President Barack Obama’s lack of leadership on resolving the crisis “does trouble me,” but criticized both parties for playing politics “as we hurtle towards a fiscal cliff.”
Lieberman’s remarks came during an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview during which he insisted there is “no mysterious alternative” to cutting spending and raising revenue, if America hopes to avert a financial implosion.
An independent who caucuses with Democrats, Lieberman said it’s time for both parties to “stop thinking about the next election and start thinking about the next generation of Americans.”
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Lieberman’s suggestion that any long-term deal to raise the limit on Uncle Sam’s credit card must include raising revenues may not get very far with his Republican colleagues. There has been chatter, however, of Republicans perhaps agreeing to drop tax breaks for jet aircraft and the oil industry, in return for Democratic support for lowering the corporate tax rate.
Lieberman said he agrees with Republicans who feel any deal on raising the debt ceiling must include serious cuts in spending.
“And I can tell you that I’ve made a decision myself that I never thought I would make,” he said. “But I think that the danger of not moving boldly to cut the national debt is actually greater than the danger that will ensue by not increasing the debt ceiling.”
Given the lingering economic doldrums, he said he prefers spending cuts to revenue increases -- but emphasized both will ultimately prove necessary.
Lieberman, author of a new book debuting next month titled "The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath,"
has joined with Oklahoma GOP Sen. Tom Coburn to propose a plan for reforming Medicare. It would increase fees and raise the retirement age to 67, but would avoid the so-called “privatization” of Medicare envisioned in the plan submitted by GOP Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is said to be preparing a reform proposal as well. But President Obama has largely avoided the issue, other than to recommend that a panel of independent experts be empowered to cut Medicare costs.
Lieberman was Al Gore’s running mate in the 2000 election cycle, but endorsed GOP Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. He told Newsmax that two statistics dramatically illustrate why Medicare cannot continue in its current form.
First, he said, the average American takes three dollars out of the program to spend on their health care for every dollar they put in. And secondly, he said that in the next decade some 20 million Baby Boomers will be added to the retirement roles.
Other highlights from the exclusive Newsmax.TV interview:
- Lieberman said he worries that President Obama is putting “extra pressure on the American military” due to his rapidly paced drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
- He expressed confidence that the U.S. military will find a way to make Obama’s deadline schedule for withdrawal to work, telling Newsmax: “They’re doing an extraordinary job, as are the Afghan troops ... But I think it puts them under more pressure, and at some risk that ought not to be there.
- Iran, he said, is the world’s No. 1 state sponsor of terror in the world, and is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
- “Not so long ago,” he said, “if there was another nation training soldiers to go in to a third country and kill hundreds of Americans, we’d go to war against that nation. Also, the Iranians have been brutally suppressive of their own people, killing a lot of them, really treating women and minorities horribly.
- The senator clarified a recent remark that he believes Iran will face a “day of reckoning” over its systematic destabilization of nations throughout the Middle East, saying, “what I mean was its people would rise up against it.”
- If the Iranian people do revolt against the oppressive theocracy lead by strongman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Lieberman said, the United States and the West should be ready to “do everything [they] can to support the Iranian people, who are much better than their government and deserve a much better life than their government is giving them.”
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