ABC News’ Sherisse Pham (@sherisse) reports: Two senators from opposite sides of the aisle came to the same conclusion today: Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and Sen. John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, joined 72 of their colleagues to pass legislation to raise the debt ceiling. Just before casting their votes, they came on ABC News’ Top Line to share their thoughts on what works — and what doesn’t — in this debt bill.
The bill isn’t perfect, said Begich, but “sometimes you have to have some tough love to make some to make things happen around here.” Or, as Begich said yesterday on the Senate floor, “sometimes you just got to suck it up butter cup.”
The Alaskan senator said the bill will create some sense of certainty in the economy, which in turn should help with job creation. Begich also said the bill protects Medicare, Social Security, and veterans benefits — three programs many Democrats were unwilling to see lose funding.
The sticking point for many lawmakers is the bill’s stipulation for a “super committee,” a bipartisan group made up of Congress members dictating budget cuts. Many have come out to blast the concept, but Begich said he was “okay” with having a group of six Democrats and six Republicans come together to figure out cuts under the threat of automatic reductions. Having that threat hanging over their heads, he said, will force them to make “responsible decisions.”
“It's going to be tough medicine,” said Begich. “There are tough decisions we have to make because of ten years or more of misspending around here and it doesn’t matter if you were a Democrat or a Republican or a current president or a past president.”
“Every one's at fault now. We have a problem, we got to buckle up and deal with it,” he added.
Sen. Hoeven, R-North Dakota, said the best part of the bill is the cuts that were made before the lifting of debt ceiling.
“For the first time, we're requiring that reductions, that savings, be made before we agree to increase the debt ceiling,” said Hoeven.
Throughout the budget debate, many Republican lawmakers have said that Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Hoeven, the former governor of North Dakota, said he is pleased that the bill requires a vote on a balanced budget.
“We had a balanced budget requirement in our state. This country I believe needs to have a balanced budget requirement as well,” said Hoeven.
The Republican senator said the next step is to prevent tax cuts. Living within our means, said Hoeven, is the way to solve the country’s deficit and debt problem. In addition to keeping tax cuts at bay, Hoeven also wants Congress to create a tax environment favorable to private investment.
"If we do those things we can move this country forward, but we need to get working on it right now and we need to get that job done."
Watch Senator Hoeven’s interview on Top Line below.