ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf (@zbyronwolf) reports:
One Democratic congressman, Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, said he’s tired of the debt debate being “held hostage” by Republicans and “enough is enough.” He won’t accept any debt deal that doesn’t include measures to raise revenue – taxes – in addition to cutting government spending.
“There are a series of things that we are willing to embrace,” Blumenauer said today on ABC’s Top Line. “We’re willing to work on — but I think, I don’t think I know, my colleagues want something to be balanced. And when we have the lowest tax collections since Truman was president, and we have a tax code that has a whole host of opportunities for people who are getting unnecessary benefits, the notion that we’re not going to have a balanced program and that it’s somehow going to be focused on seniors, low income and essential infrastructure programs, I think is a nonstarter, and it should be.”
Blumenauer said there is a lot of “low hanging fruit” where cost cutting can be effective . He cited military spending, agriculture and “accelerating health care reforms.”
What about entitlement reform?
“I’m willing to talk about a range of things, but the point is, it’s got to be balanced, it’s got to be focused,” Blumenauer said.
He pointed to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentuckian who said today he doubts there can meaningful debt reform while President Obama is in office. To Blumenauer, that sounded like a top Republican saying, “that his No. 1 priority for this session of Congress is not to protect the economy, to not deal with the debt ceiling, it was to defeat Barack Obama. He is saying we can’t have progress. Well, I think that’s an ideological, political statement. It’s unfortunate. I hope his colleagues don’t back him up.”
But by suggesting any solution needs to be balanced and include a revenue portion, Blumenauer could himself be seen as drawing a line in the sand and risking default over ideology. He balked, however, when asked if he would rather see the country default than pass a bill to raise the debt ceiling without a tax element.
“Well, that’s absolutely not the case. In fact, I was part of almost 100 Democrats who voted to increase the debt ceiling without condition, something that usually the majority party does because it’s absolutely unacceptable to have the default. But if we’re going to be playing these games where every month or two there’s another hostage that is taken, for something that is an objective that isn’t supported by the majority of the American public, and isn’t good policy, at some point you just have to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ I’m willing to look forward to what the proposals are, but to start negotiating with people who basically don’t want to negotiate — they have one thing and it’s their way or they’ll accept the consequences — I don’t think that’s an appropriate response, and I’m not going to get sucked into that game.”
We also spoke to the New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny, who has been on the campaign trail with Republican presidential candidates. He talked about their rhetoric on the debt debate and how many Republicans don’t believe that going beyond the Aug. 2 deadline will result in financial calamity.