The GOP reached an agreement last week to raise the debt ceiling for a few months, but that increase includes a requirement for the Senate to pass a budget for the first time in four years, said Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins of Kansas.
Jenkins also said in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV that she hopes there is “great room for compromise” with President Barack Obama to trim the spending side of the budget and make progress not just on the national debt, but also on the long-running annual budget deficit.
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“Well, certainly there will be no defaulting if the Senate simply does its job,” Jenkins said, “so I would hope there would not be a default simply because the Senate was in transience and wouldn’t do their budget.”
“The Senate hasn’t passed a budget in over four years. The House has been passing budgets that demonstrate that it’s possible to balance the budget and eliminate the debt. The president sent a couple of budgets up here the last couple of years that haven’t gotten any votes because they never balanced. So we’re hoping that that will be the first line of business to focus on how to get this financial situation solved.”
At their retreat following the swearing in of the 113th Congress in the first week of January, GOP members of the House agreed that they should raise the debt ceiling for a few months as budget issues are worked out - starting with a document to work off of.
“If you don’t have a budget you don’t know what can be done [or] how much it needs to be cut,” Jenkins said. “Our bill that we’ll bring to the [floor] simply says we’ll give a short term debt limit increase... And that will be our starting point. The House will pass one, and the trigger is if you don’t have a budget, then members of the Senate should not get paid, and the American people can understand that.”
House Republicans have threatened to shut the government down to make a point to Obama that they are serious about closing the budget deficit and stop adding to the federal debt.
“I don’t think anyone is anticipating a shutdown here in the short term if the Senate simply does its job,” she said. “We’re partnering [a] short term debt limit increase with just asking the Senate to do their job in exchange for their pay because no one wants to see a shutdown and no one around here believes that the Senate can reject an offer that simply requires them to do their job.”
Obama spoke in his inaugural address Monday of an unwillingness to cut entitlement programs, which Republicans point out are the greatest threat to the nation’s fiscal health in the coming years. Without making cuts, it will be difficult to balance the budget, Jenkins said.
“We need to turn to the spending side of the ledger,” she said. “Most Americans understand we don’t have a tax problem, we have a spending problem here in Washington, and so likewise we have reforms outlined in order to save for Social Security and Medicare, and make no changes to current retirees and save it so it’s there for the next generation of hard working Americans.”
Jenkins added that with taxes having already been raised during the fiscal cliff fix as Obama wanted to, GOP ideas for fixing the revenue and spending problems can be the focus of negotiations before tackling any other issues.
“Well, I hope there is a great room for compromise. Everybody knows we’ve seen a lot of tax increases with the president’s healthcare bill, [and] certainly Jan. 1 the president got the tax increase that he campaigned on,” she said.
“Now Republicans have gone a step further and we believe there are further initiatives in the tax cuts that can be implemented by lowering the rates, broadening the base, and getting rid of the special interest loopholes that only the very wealthy are taking advantage of anyway. Put an end to crony capitalism and reform the tax code.”
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