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Coburn, Van Hollen Wrangle on Budget

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Sen. Tom Coburn is a member of the “gang of six” Senators who are working on bipartisan budget legislation.

Updated: 12:01 p.m.

Two days after the House adopted a Republican budget proposal, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) disagreed Sunday on the plan’s methods and the importance of raising the debt ceiling.

The $1.019 trillion fiscal 2012 budget resolution, authored by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), is below the $1.121 trillion in discretionary spending that President Barack Obama requested, and it has an unlikely path forward with a Democratic-controlled Senate and White House in the way. The House rejected an alternative plan by Van Hollen, who is the Budget Committee’s ranking member, in another vote Friday.

“You can’t criticize Paul Ryan’s plan until you have one that accomplishes the same thing,” Coburn said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The president’s [plan] doesn’t come close to that. So what we need is not the partisan bickering and not the labeling, what we need is: What is good about Paul Ryan’s plan that [Democrats] can live with, and what is good about [Van Hollen’s] plan that [Republicans] can live with?”

Van Hollen disputed the recent GOP talking point that the country does not have a revenue problem. Taxes will be a key component to any deficit reduction deal, he said on the show.

“I am willing to work out a plan to reduce the deficit — it should not just involve spending cuts, as the fiscal commission has said. And as Tom has said, we need to deal with the revenue piece,” Van Hollen said.

Coburn is a member of the bipartisan “gang of six” Senators who are also working on budget legislation based on the recommendations of the president’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. He said the group will offer a separate budget plan that no one will like — which he called a good sign.

“Nobody is going to like what we come up with,” he said. “The left isn’t going to like it, the right isn’t going to like it. That’s one of the things that would be an indicator that it’s probably the best compromise we’re going to be able to get.”

Another member of the gang of six, Sen. Mark Warner, faulted Ryan’s plan on Sunday for not seeking new revenue and for leaving defense spending untouched.

“That means the only place that he can go to get his deficit reduction is this massive transfer of moral responsibility onto our seniors in terms of paying for health care,” the Virginia Democrat said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “Now that’s one approach. It’s not an approach that I think the vast majority of Americans would want.”

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