Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester
says Congress needs to use President Barack Obama’s debt commission formation and deliberations as templates for how Democrats and Republicans should finally resolve 2011 spending and avoid a government shutdown after Friday. In an interview Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Tester also said he hopes a government shutdown is avoided, “because overall it doesn’t do good things for the country.”
“Hopefully the folks that are negotiating in the House and in the Senate, Democrats and Republicans, will truly negotiate and come up with a middle ground for a plan that will keep us funded for the next six months, and move forward with the 2012 budget after that,” he said, adding that the budget plan released by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan Tuesday was “a good start.”
Tester said the way to avoid a shutdown, and to reach agreement on a 2012 budget, is to follow the “template” used by Obama’s deficit-reduction commission, whose co-chairs were former Wyoming GOP Sen. Alan Simpson and former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles.
“Simpson-Bowles came out with a template that I think we need to use,” Tester said. “And what that template did — and what the president did — is he put members of both parties in the same room and they pounded something out.
“I really don’t think Republicans can come up with a plan without Democrats taking potshots at it; and Democrats can’t come up with a plan without Republicans taking potshots at it,” he continued. “I think they have to work together to get it done.
“And I think, ultimately, everything has to be on the table . . . entitlements, military spending, discretionary spending, tax reform — all will be part of the package — just like Simpson-Bowles did, and come up with a short-term, and a long-term, package to get our arms around the deficit and debt,” Tester added. “I think it can be done, and I think you need to use Simpson-Bowles as a template to do it.”
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