Rep. Levin: ‘Probably Not’ Time to Finalize Gang of Six Deal by August 2

Jul 20, 2011 4:31pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein (@rickklein) reports:

The challenges facing negotiators on a deficit deal are growing more acute: Now, in addition to the substantive divisions between and inside of the two parties, they face the pressure of the clock.

Asked on ABC’s “Top Line” today whether the broad deal being now being discussed could be implemented in time for the August 2 default deadline, Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., said “probably not.”

“We have to work on these issues, but the main thing we have to do is to step to the plate on the debt ceiling,” said Levin, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee. “The full faith and credit of our country is on line. That’s just a simple fact, and this place has to step up to the plate. I think the Gang of Six have presented some ideas. We need to look at them, but I don’t know that we can act on that before these 13 days are up. Actually, we need to act way before the 13 days.”

Levin said Congress has to work on another, short-term track to raise the debt ceiling, even if a broader agreement on spending can be achieved.

“We’re going to have to do some structural changes. But we can’t let the immediate be the enemy of the future. We have to deal with the immediate in order to deal with the future,” he said.

Levin said the Senate’s “Gang of Six” scored a “breakthrough” in that Republicans are now acknowledging the need for new revenues.

Still, he said he opposes cuts in entitlement programs: “I’m not in favor of any cuts in benefits for Medicare.”

Turning to politics, Levin said he’s confident that the president will win his home state of Michigan next year, as he did in 2008.

“I think the president will carry it, and I think a major reason is — the truth of the matter is he saved the auto industry, with the help of some of us. Saved the auto industry,” Levin said. “I think, ‘Because I’ve had the guts to do that, you should keep me in office.’ There are other things he’s done also, but that’s critical for the state of Michigan.”

Watch the full interview with Rep. Sander Levin HERE.

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